210: Karen Sperling – Creating Art from Photography and Generating Big Sales

Premium Members, click here to access this interview in the premium area.

Karen Sperling of www.artistrymag.com is a Los Angeles based portrait photographer and artist. In this interview, Karen shares her thoughts and ideas on what has become a big dollar industry in the USA and I'm guessing, soon to be world wide. I'm talking about the conversion of a photograph to a digital or “real” painting using both software and traditional art practices including paints, canvas, brushes, varnishes, oils etc. Karen is creating art from photography and photographers are generating BIG sales as a result.

Karen has been painting commissioned portraits since 2003 and has exhibited her fine art work in New York's Chelsea art section and her work is held in private collections internationally. She is also an expert in the software program Corel Painter and has been writing about and teaching the program longer than anyone.

She wrote the first several Painter manuals when the software debuted over 20 years ago and is the author of many how-to Corel Painter books, including the popular Painting for Photographers series.

Combining her artistry skills with talented photographers has seen pieces she's worked on sell for upwards of ten, fifteen and twenty thousand dollars. One of the most exciting aspects of this was the marketing strategy Karen shares that one photographer was using to commission these art works.

Here’s some of what we cover in this interview:

  • How Karen started her career with Corel Painter
  • How Karen is generating an income by combining photography and art
  • A good photograph has better chances of having a better painting counterpart
  • Does being an artist help you become a better photographer?
  • The similarities between photographs and paintings
  • How the use of light in photography and painting differs
  • The style of artwork considered when converting a photograph to a digital painting
  • The process involved in converting a photograph to a digital artwork
  • What is a hybrid painting?
  • Are all artists capable of replicating a style you want to achieve?
  • Photoshop is much better at image editing than creating painterly type art
  • Should photographers be learning to utilise Corel Painter
  • What it takes for each artwork to achieve your desired look
  • The importance of knowing your art history and theories when working on digital paintings
  • Why someone else's photo could be better than another photographer’s work
  • Understanding different photography theories about lighting and posing makes a huge difference in your output
  • How much creative freedom do photographers have when commissioning Karen for an artwork?
  • How long does it take to complete a digital painting?
  • Why has digital art only gained its popularity now?
  • Karen’s creative outlets
  • Why Karen self-publishes her painter books
Karen Sperling Photography Podcast - Linda Gregory

Painting by Karen Sperling based on a photograph by Linda Gregory

What’s on Offer for Premium Members

If you’re a premium member, you should have received an email with links to your version of this episode where you can hear more of the interview where we dive deeper into some of the earlier topics plus some new ones that I pushed for and include:

  • How photographers are making up to $40,000 with this style of art
  • How these photographers are finding the type of clients to pay as much as they do for self portraits

If you’re on the fence about becoming a premium member, join with the $1 trial today and get access to the FULL interview with Karen, get access to an amazing back catalogue of interviews and ALL future interviews delivered automatically to your phone or tablet.

Turning photographs into paintings, the better the source photograph is, the better the ultimate painting will be. – Karen Sperling

Plus, access to a members only Secret Facebook Group where you can connect with other members and interview guests to help, support and motivate you to take what you hear in each episode and put it into action. You will not find more friendly, more motivated and caring photographers online.

Karen Sperling Photography Podcast - Signature Beauty Gallery

Painting by Karen Sperling based on a photo by Signature Beauty Gallery

What is your big takeaway?

Following this interview, I’d love to know if you're taking anything away from what Karen shared. Is there something you heard that excited or motivated you to the point where you thought, yeah, I'm going to do that! If so, let me know by leaving your thoughts in the comments below, let me know what your takeaways were, what you plan to implement in your business as a result of what you heard in todays episode.

Portrait painting is commercial art. It’s really trying to satisfy the person who’s hiring you. – Karen Sperling

If you have any questions that I missed, a specific question you’d like to ask Karen or if you just want to say thanks for coming on the show, feel free to add them in the comments area below.

iTunes Reviews and Shout-outs

Each week I check for any new iTunes reviews and it's always a buzz to receive these… for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, it's confirmation that I'm on the right track with the interviews and that they really are helping you improve your photography business. That's awesome!

Secondly, iTunes is the biggest search engine when it comes to podcasts and it's your reviews and ratings that help other photographers find PhotoBizX. More listeners means more interviews and ultimately a better show.

If you have left a review in the past, thank you!

If you haven't and you'd like to, head to https://photobizx.com/itunes and you can leave some honest feedback and a rating which will help both me and the show and I'll be sure to thank you on the show and add a link to your website or blog if you let me know the URL of your website and your name.

Alternatively, if you've left a review for PhotoBizX and are looking for more backlinks to help your SEO, leave a review for the new Photography Xperiment Podcast  and email me your key words or keyword phrase and where you'd like me to link to.

Karen Sperling Photography Podcast - Ebert Studio

Painting by Karen Sperling based on a photo by Ebert Studio

The NEW Photography Xperiment Podcast is live and available

Following the success and support shown by listeners after the experimental format of the recent interviews, the new Photo Xperiment Podcast has been launched and is available on this site and in iTunes now.

Interviews are underway and I'll be looking for new guests, not restricted to wedding and portrait photographers. If you have someone you think would be a good fit, let me know in the comment area below or email me, andrew@photobizx.com.

The idea behind these interviews is to get into the headspace of the photographer and find what makes them tick, what drives them, their thought process, philosophy on shooting and how they achieve what they do with their photography. So yeah, a little technique type content too.

These interviews will not focus on the business of photography – that'll be preserved solely for the weekly and unchanging format of the PhotoBizX podcast.

To hear these interviews in your podcast app, you will need to subscribe to the podcast – these interviews will not be delivered automatically if you're subscribed to PhotoBizX. Open your favourite podcast app and search “Photography Xperiment Podcast” or enter the feed URL,  https://photobizx.com/feed/xperiment/ into the search field of your podcast app.

The last episode featured was a swing away from the usual and instead of talking to a photographer, we were lucky enough to have both Paul and Kate of Atkins of Atkins Pro Lab with us.

The Atkins photography lab is celebrating their 80 year anniversary which makes them Australia's oldest professional photo lab, run by a third generation husband and wife team. Although based in Australia, they service photographers from all over the globe because Atkins is  the only lab in the world printing on handmade cotton rag sheets, something they developed with their devotion to real fine art printing.

It is really important that photographers look for what works for them in terms of their own branding and their own marketplace and then really pitch something to that.  – Paul and Kate

The interview is available here: TPX18: Paul and Kate Atkins – The Real Fine Art Photography Printers

In the interview, Paul and Kate mentioned a special offer for listeners… 20% off your first order with Atkins Pro Lab. Simply mention the podcast to take advantage of that offer.

Karen Sperling Photography Podcast - Don Ling

Painting by Karen Sperling based on a photo by Don Ling

Shoot to Sell with Mark Rosetto

I had a quick chat to Mark Rosetto following a special “fly on the wall” offer he had open for five local photographers last week. The idea was to allow these photographers to watch what Mark does in the pre-shoot chat, how he shoots to fulfil what the client wants and to observe the following sales session.

Really, I wanted to know if Mark could record the whole thing so I could see it and hopefully share it with you. He told me it wasn't being recorded. Bummer.

We went on to chat about his sales techniques and how he has 13 different ways to close a sale. I stopped him after he shared a couple and asked if I could record this.

Mark happily agreed and I recorded a quick conversation with him on some of these closing techniques plus other sales related ideas. You can hear that conversation in todays episode after the interview with Karen.

If you like what you hear, Mark is covering this and a stack more in his two day workshops which are going right round the country in 2017. Full details are here: Shoot to Sell – Sell With ProSelect

If you'd like to hear more about Mark and a stack more marketing, selling and business ideas, have a listen to episode 184 of the podcast.

Mark built and ran one of Melbourne’s most successful portrait studios, photographing approximately 500 clients per year.

Mark says, day one of his workshops will be focused on using the genre and style you already have, you will learn the art of client education to grow your business, increase your average orders and have a greater consistency and predictability in your photography studio.

Day two will focus on selling with Preselect. ProSelect is an in-person sales software for photographers which guides you through the complete presenting and selling process with your client. It doesn’t matter if you have never heard of ProSelect or have been using it for many, many years. This workshop is designed for best practise, ease of usability, how to use it to increase your average sale and then how to close sales in a fun and interactive way.

Karen Sperling Photography Podcast - Karah Sambuco

Painting by Karen Sperling based on a photo by Karah Sambuco

Slideshow Competition!

I have a 12 month Pro Plan for SmartSlides to give away and I'm going to have a little competition to find who will receive it.

To enter and have a chance of winning …

Create a slideshow of between 5 and 10 images ONLY.
Photos are to be Black and White only (purely for fun).

The brief: Show one family member in their natural environment.

Entries open for 10 days and close Wednesday 22nd March 2017.

The slideshow must to be made on SmartSlides and the trial version is totally fine.

Send the link to your slideshow to me: andrew@photobizx.com

The winner will be chosen on which slide show impacts me the most.

I've moved from MeetEdgar to Viraltag

Keeping up with social media is tough, especially when there is such emphasis to be everywhere. And there is pressure to keep putting great content out there. The problem is, it's difficult to always be coming up with new content and there was never an easy way to re-use previously posted evergreen content.

That was until I discovered Meet Edgar – it was an app that allowed me to schedule posts and recycle the evergreen posts as often as I liked. For example, if I have a post on wet weather ideas for brides on their wedding day, I want to be able to share that post multiple times a year, every year. Meet Edgar allowed me to do that easily with Facebook and Twitter. It was great but it was expensive at USD$49 per month for their starter package.

Now there is a better solution… better in every way! Viraltag.

Viraltag is half the price and has double the features. I can now schedule to Instagram, Facebook (my business pages and personal profile), Twitter and Pinterest. They also support posting to Tumblr and Linkedin but I don't use these.

I thought migrating all my content to Viraltag was going to be a nightmare and that was one thing holding me back. Nothing to worry about – they did it all for me! Amazing.

Since moving over, my assistant Doi who was looking after Meet Edgar is now utilising ViralTag and had wanted to share the following:

I’m still learning how to thoroughly use ViralTag and adjust to it. 

For PBX listeners, they need to know that they have to add a ViralTag Chrome extension on their desktop for thumbnails to show when scheduling posts. If they simply schedule using a link, thumbnails won’t show (except for when they share image posts).

Once they have the ViralTag Chrome extension, wherever website they go to, even on Facebook photos on your feed, so long as there’s a photo, you will see the ViralTag icon (similar to a Pinterest button). 

When you click on that button, it will bring you to the ViralTag box where you can schedule it for sharing.

Scheduling links using that button is the only way for a thumbnail to show in the ViralTag Dashboard. Otherwise, you will only see a blank box. Here’s a screenshot to show you:

The first post was shared directly as a link. Notice how there's no photo showing in the thumbnail. However, you'll see the image thumbnail on the social media channel, but not on the dashboard. The 2nd and 3rd posts were scheduled using the ViralTag button so the thumbnails can be seen here. The last post was an image upload so there's no problem with this one.

The only feature I haven’t used is their Pinterest sharing capabilities.

For Instagram, I use the ViralTag mobile app.

One big advantage with Viraltag is since you've associated your Google Analytics in there, they will suggest the best times to schedule the posts based on your GA results. Also, you will see reports about your posts.

Let me know if you have other questions too.

Links to people, places and things mentioned in this episode:

Karen Sperling Website

Custom Hand-Painted TV Cover

Karen Sperling on Facebook

Karen Sperling on Twitter

Karen Sperling's Painting for Photographers Volume 3: Painting Portraits, Landscapes and Composites in Corel Painter

Karen Sperling Books on Amazon

Corel Painter

Episode 204: Richie Schwartz – Pet Photography Business The Right Way

SmartSlides – the worlds easiest slideshow builder for photographers

Viraltag – The # 1 Social Media Marketing Tool for Sharing Visuals

Karen Sperling Photography Podcast_01

Featured image painting by Karen Sperling based on a photo by Zarek

Thank you!

Thanks again for listening and thanks to Karen for coming on and sharing his thoughts and ideas on what is making her stand out in the saturated market of portrait photography.

It’s funny because when I paint for photographers they are a little bit intimidated at first and I say “I’m really just here to serve and this is just a skill that I am offering you. I have worked many years on this skill. But it is just a skill and I think that if somebody is interested in learning how to do it, they can.” – Karen Sperling

If you have any suggestions, comments or questions about this episode, please be sure to leave them below in the comment section of this post, and if you liked the episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the bottom of the post!

That’s it for me this week, hope everything is going well for you in life and business!

Thanks and speak soon


By | 2017-04-01T13:34:33+00:00 March 13th, 2017|Podcast|0 Comments