We talked to Jon Meadows of High-End Headshots about getting headshots that rock during the pandemic times.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jon Meadows: My family and I are doing well. We are expecting our third child to be born in a couple of months, and we’re getting ready for him! The business appears to be back in full swing for now too!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded High-End Headshots.
Jon Meadows: I spent from 2005 to 2012 finishing up school and angling for law school. I wanted to practice law, but I decided against it after a terrible paralegal experience and good advice from a friend who decided to go a different direction than law.
I jumped into politics on the campaign side of things for four elections, worked on the Hill for two years, and in a non-profit in the civic education (politics) space. That ended with them firing me.
I was 15 months into getting amazing training to develop my hobby into a real skill. I was learning how to do corporate headshots specifically. I got fired one morning, and I went full-time that afternoon.
High-End Headshots was born out of necessity to provide for my family and a desire to leave politics behind me!
How does High-End Headshots innovate?
Jon Meadows: High-End Headshots was my first brand. I have just developed a new brand, High-End Portraits. Between these two brands, I have developed different ways of photographing people.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jon Meadows: It was a real challenge for our family. The business had been growing and doing quite well, but sales went as low as $550 for the month of May. The costs of the business are fairly low. The main cost was the cost of the studio, which wasn’t used.
I coped by developing a new brand. Offices weren’t full of people for big headshot jobs, so I developed High-End Portraits, which caters primarily to families. Companies didn’t want people at the offices, much less a photographer, but families were still willing to work with a photographer.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jon Meadows: There were not many difficult choices for me; the virus and the responses to it just tested my commitment and dedication to it. I am fully committed. I worked hard, maintaining my leads and getting new leads, rethinking parts of my business, learning and re-learning my sales process, etc.
One of the big lessons learned is that a small business that’s barely making good times should not be satisfied with that. Paying the bills quickly becomes a real shortage of money when business dries up through something unexpected like Covid-19.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and High-End Headshots in the future?
Jon Meadows: I rely on God, my faith, my church, and am blessed to have a family that fully believes in me and my pursuit of a great career in photography. When you know that God loves you in a special way, not because of anything you’ve done, but because he is a loving God and is a loving God to you, that does a great deal to reduce felt stress and anxiety.
I think this virus will weed out a lot of shoots and burn photographers who were barely making it before, and it will leave a gaping hole for photographers who were able to make it through the storm. There is pent up demand, and there will be fewer suppliers.
The importance of people’s online presence is only growing through this, and people are going to be looking for the best product to help them present well online.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jon Meadows: In one sense, there are many competitors in my market, offering images of people’s faces. In another, more important sense to me, I have no competition. No one can do what I do, how I do it and provide the amazing experience I provide.
I am planning and have started to develop more behind the scenes video content to help people get a feeling for how the experience is. The more I can convey how fun the guided, coached professional headshot session is, the better.
Your final thoughts?
Jon Meadows: Thank you for the chance to be featured on startup.info and the Innovators vs. Covid-19 series!