John DeMato - NYC Branded Lifestyle Portrait Photographer

NYC Branded Lifestyle Photographer - Blog

NYC Branded Lifestyle Portrait Photography Blog | Hi, I'm John DeMato, and I collaborate with thought leaders to create powerful, purposeful and authentic images. This is my blog where I talk all about the magic behind the portraits we create.

A Trip Down Crappy Memory Lane...


When you feel down and out about where you are…

NYC Branded Lifestyle Portrait - DeMato profile shot while shooting with Nikon.JPG

…just remember how far you’ve come to put everything in perspective.


Recently, I was cleaning out my phone and came across a folder of “Photography Ideas” that I completely forgot I’d created.

Within the folder were several interesting photo project ideas stacked next to each other - some of the ideas I’d actually dust off and experiment with when I get the time. Others - eh, I’ve outgrown those types of things, but, they definitely made sense to me at the time.

And then, there were some ideas that left me utterly speechless, took the wind out of me, and I needed a moment to recover.

One of those ideas, in particular, was this one - it was in the “business” section of the folder:


Well, at least I didn’t included makeup and hair for that price, lol

In all honesty, when I first saw this note, it created a tangible, emotional reaction out of me - not laughing, not angry, but a sense of deep sadness and empathy - almost to the point of tears.

I don’t remember creating this “special,” but, I sure as hell do remember that guy who did

That guy was a brand new business owner who just quit his full-time job with no plan whatsoever and was completely lost, had zero direction with his business, was lonely, on an island all by himself, no network to lean on, scared out of his mind, waking up and freaking out in the middle of the night, no confidence whatsoever in his ability to make a living on his own, throwing random shit against a wall and hoped it would stick...

...and for the first two years of his business, nothing did - it slid down the wall right into the garbage pail.

That guy was focused on commoditizing his business, because he had no idea that building relationships through a memorable online presence was the way to go. How the hell was he supposed to figure that one out with all the sharks circling him, smelling blood in the water, waiting to sell him all of their garbage “hacks,” “tips,” and “gameplans” that don’t move the needle.

I mean - memorable online presence? That guy wouldn’t even know where to start to wrap his head around that concept. You mean a website? Social? Who reads that shit?

That guy was all about the race to the bottom with discounts because he had no idea that that was shutting him out of appealing to higher-end clients. Higher-end clients? I’m shooting portraits - who the hell is going to pay thousands of dollars for photos they can get way cheaper?

It honestly is upsetting me to even think about my mindset at the beginning of this business owner journey, but, by the same token, it’s also an empowering exercise thinking back to where I started.

I recognize that guy, but, the evolution from then to now is truly night and day.

There’s a part of me that wants to jump in a time machine and head back to 5 minutes before I post this ad, knock on my front door and when I answer, smack the phone out of my hand before I post this nonsense on the internet.

“For God’s sake, John, $75 SPECIAL? Are you out of your f****n mind? Have some respect for yourself, the equipment you use, the knowledge you possess and the passion for what you do with it all. You don’t get clients by doing your work for free - that makes absolutely no sense! You have a fire in you that you don’t know exists yet, but when you start to feel it, you fan that flame!

...oh, and don’t ever discount your work again - that’s some bush league shit!”

Either way - wow - this was quite a reminder of where I started.

What about you?

Do you have old notes lying around showing how green and clueless you once were with regard to your business? How did you feel when you ran across them?

PS - For those of you who aren’t in the know, I mail out these blogs 3x a week, and lemme tell you, they’re a real party, so, if you’d like to get in on this, sign up for it here and I’ll throw in a free gift for you, because I care, :)