Today I’d like to present to you guys a very interesting photographer that I met over in Amsterdam. Richard’s the half-black/half Asian Dutch version of myself (yes, I know, quite confusing). He is hyper, is motivated by creation, loves networking and more often than not takes on more projects he can chew. When I asked him how he managed, he told me how he generated more than 24 hours within a day: Delegating. Without further ado, let me introduce to you: Richard Terborg & the art of delegation.
– Von Wong
When Benjamin was in Amsterdam for his workshop, we had a little chat about managing a crew on set. How could I get the same dedication that gets things done on set, doing things that don’t involve shooting? I have been described as “1 man, 7 brains, 2 hands and no time!” As a full-time Conceptual Fashion Photographer, I just love the creative process that comes with every shoot: teaching, helping others, jumping head first into every opportunity, just working hard and having fun with creatives. But doing all of this and putting yourself out there everyday usually comes at the cost of time and sleep (but who really needs that last one anyway)! Before I even realized it, my weekly schedule was: go through the social media channels, look at what other photographers are doing, respond to questions and comments, on to answering emails from other photographers, clients and emailing new clients, scouting for new talent: artists, clothing designers, makeup artists, pretty much any crazy type person! Then you have the editing that needs to get done, new shoots that need to be managed, planning, finding models, location scouting, building sets, buying set supplies, thinking of new concepts. Not done yet! Writing blog posts, working on my coffee table book, uploading new images, doing my administration, planning and organizing workshops for other photographers and myself and, of course, let’s not forget shooting! Sounds insane? It’s easier than you think! I went looking for assistants that would chop off my legs and carry it halfway to help create a few hours to do more things!
The thought of “I can do everything by myself” is something the millenium kids have developed. Instead of finding someone to help with marketing, I first try and learn things myself. Although it’s very fun, it takes time… and that’s time I’m not spending on what really matters or what I need to be doing.
I needed to put the pride and the thought of “well, I’ll just learn that from the internet” aside. I needed to start accepting that there are people out there that know how to do it and can probably do it way faster if I just made a little effort in explaining what I want.
First: Before you can start delegating, you need to find someone to delegate to!
Finding the right person is probably the hardest, but the most important thing. It’s like a person you marry. I started looking for photography/art/design/media schools that were in my city and asked how my company could get on the list of companies that students go through when looking for internships. I quickly found the organization that does this for all the schools in the Netherlands and went through the “checking process”. Before I knew it, I was on the list and was getting letters left and right from students wanting to do their internship with me. So I scheduled some interviews. When you start interviewing, you really have to feel immediately whether or not you will get along with that other person. You will be working together so you need to know if that person is able to handle it. I play open cards from the get go. “This is what i do, this is how I do it. Do you see yourself fit in this? And if so, how?”
Also finding out if the person is able to push back when pushed is important. Working with a lot of creatives means working with a lot of different visions and I personally love it when people speak their mind. Feel something isn’t working? Let us know! “Why do you think that? What would you change?” I’m not looking for someone to sit in a corner and turn a flash power switch on and off. I’m looking for an extra set of eyes, ears and *in zombie voice*: brainzzz! brainzzz! If there’s one piece of advice I can give you: Don’t just run with anyone.
And that is how I found my full-time Assistant/Intern: Juliane Falk. Say hi!
Picture taken by: Jarmal Martis
How do you know what to delegate? Here’s how I did it:
First I started writing down everything I did. Every little thing I could think of for a week as I was doing them or thinking about them. Evernote was my friend! From here, I was able to create two different lists.
The first of all the things I knew my intern was able to do, without too much intervention like: scouting locations, scouting models, pre-selections, mood boards, sketches, getting gear, calling locations, assisting on shoots etc.
The second, of things that just needed to get done that the intern wouldn’t be able to handle such as…finding new clients, art galleries, selling the work, creating invoices, sending out payment reminders, blog text reviewing, etc. Put this list aside.
I took the first list and used it to make daily tasks and broke them down in to-do’s, which I go over with my intern. “How do we go over these daily tasks?” you might ask. What’s the point of living in the future if you’re not using the technology? Intern stays at home, I stay at home and we go through my to-do list and I delegate whatever tasks I can through Skype. Then I give it a deadline. Sometimes giving it insane deadlines that are very tight; only because I have to work with the same as well and it’s good to throw them in the deep to see how they react. 🙂 ew
This is just to get you started, after a few months I no longer creating the list of things “I still need” or “want to do”. I send them straight to my intern and she just sends me an email or gives a shout with the day and time she put into it and when she will be sending updates about it. It makes all the difference timewise.
Meeting your delegatee halfway when they miss a deadline is the only way to go. Offer a hand if a task is too rigorous or if circumstances make it hard for them to complete it on time.
Third: Rules and Restrictions
This should be clear from the first interview. What is that person allowed to do, and to what end. Keep in mind that they do represent your brand. Taking behind the scenes pictures or video is great! Posting the results online before the client gets the chance to post their own campaign? Not so much! So stating how you work and by what rules you need to work is good to go over with your delegatee. It’s also good practice to share this information before a shoot so that they can learn about every client and their needs. However, you are dealing with a human so do not treat them like a robot. Give them the freedom to do it in their own way, as long as it gets done and done on time.
Fourth: Different People, Different Tasks!
Remember the second list we had? Think that list was going to be the list of things for me to do? Wrong!
Going by the same principle of finding an intern, I was soon looking for someone to keep track of invoices, orders and especially taxes! Always giving myself the excuses “this would be way too expensive!” and “I can do those taxes myself!” I finally sat down and called in reinforcements. Telling them my story, where I’m at and how they could help me. I got so many cool responses from great people that were there to show me the way and before you knew it, I had a bookkeeper!
Soon after came help for finding new clients and help with all around communication and marketing in the form of an agent! I am now represented by the agency Draumlist.
From this came tasks I could delegate closer to home. My wife, Karin van de Kuilen, has been a drawer and painter forever! Why couldn’t she paint me a cool new set? So I started adding her in the mix and before you knew it she was helping out sketching shoots, set building, painting props, building props etc.
My sister, Thelea Terborg, awesome blogger! Crazy with words! And now even a wizz in marketing! She goes over all the text I write, making sure everything looks nice and pretty and gets new blog topics ready that I sometimes forget to write down. I couldn’t ask all of this from 1 person and doing it all by myself was not going to work for long.
Different people love doing different things. Find out what other people love to do, and see if you can help out each other doing what you love.
If you want to follow me, the crazy people that like working with me or if you have any questions or just want to say hi. follow my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RichardTerborg.Photos