We had the good fortune of connecting with Patricia Burmicky and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Patricia, we’d love to start by asking you about lessons learned. Is there a lesson you can share with us?
Throughout my 10 years of experience as a photographer and owner of a Photography School, I have learned that providing an experience that goes beyond clients expectations, from the beginning, is a key success factor. Just as important, it is critical to surround yourself with staff who are aligned with your business core values. I had no idea how much these experiences would help us in a time like this. When we began social distancing practices due to COVID-19 in early March, it was very stressful. However, from day one, having a great team made all the difference for finding a solution that would help all of us. As such, we decided to quickly pivot and take our classes online. It was a lot of work, since our curriculum had been designed specifically for in person classes with both indoor and outdoor practices. We were used to helping students by looking at their images and giving them recommendations and helping out with their settings. Using Zoom as a tool and a camera software that allows us to share settings and photos that are taken during class, has been surprisingly helpful. Students see how the photo is taken (the process) and then practice so that they can immediately see the result. We continue reviewing their weekly assignment and having an open discussion in the first part of the class. Students benefit from getting feedback from the instructor and their peers. These tools, as well as social media and newsletters to our community of students have also been key in promoting our new offerings and sharing student’s work. Having a great team that was committed to the success of the school allowed us to take our classes online in a short period of time. The community of loyal students we had built, allowed us to maintain registration thanks to their trust in the quality of our classes. Our staff has done a great job of adapting and maintaining the quality of the classes, which has in turn allowed us to strengthen the community’s bond. Another lesson I’ve learned in my career is how to face the unknown. Learning to deal with constant change where quick decisions need to be made (especially at the beginning) is scary. However, it is also rewarding when these circumstances have triggered a change of mindset, causing us to reinvent ourselves and apply our creativity in new ways. Lastly, I have witnessed the incredible work that students have been producing during the pandemic. They are so passionate about continuing to photograph even during tough times that it inspires me as I coach them in their creative process.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a portrait and event photographer. I own a photography school in Manhattan, PhotoUno Photography School. Early in my professional career, I learned that my vocation was to teach. Being the oldest of my siblings allowed me to start teaching at a very young age. As I enjoyed teaching them, I started tutoring younger kids when I was in high school and college. After I graduated from my photography studies, I continued to teach privately until I got the idea of opening my own photography school. While teaching, I constantly photographed the world around me. I discovered the importance of what I refer to as, “freezing a moment in time,” and sharing the gift of an experience in the form of a photograph with someone. Having a plan for both my businesses (as a teacher and a photographer) made a huge difference. It helped me ensure my products were great. The plan allowed us to offer our students a great experience that was consistent from start to finish. The people I photograph feel comfortable working with me because we prepare the session in advance through a consultation meeting. I coach them while in the session making sure they have an incredible experience. This planning has allowed me to put myself in my clients’ shoes, creating a process that delivers more than they desire. It is just as important to listen to your clients and constantly improve your process to ensure the best experience. It is not easy, but I think nothing is. There is always a lot of work and effort, dealing with good days and bad days, but I do believe that when you do something you are passionate about, things go smoother. You will compromise on a lot of things, but the important thing is to have the courage to do it in pursuit of your passion. I could not have done this alone. I am surrounded by a great team that is as passionate about teaching and photography, just as I am. It’s important to also set expectations with your team. My lessons are happening everyday, but as I said before, we are more capable of change than we think we are. We have to adapt to succeed in our environment. You must be open to others’ ideas, as well as being understanding of what we are doing well and what we can improve. We have our whole lives to do this, the important thing is to overcome our fears and do things differently. In the worlds of Albert Einstein, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” However, sometimes we need to dig in and find the courage to do things differently, as well as asking for help along the way. We are not alone. Both my brands, PhotoUno Photography School and Patricia Burmicky are about having fun, helping clients to achieve their potential, either by having amazing photos taken or by encouraging them to make the most of photography and enjoying the process along the way.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
New York City is an amazing place. Currently, I don’t have any visits scheduled, but when we return to our “new normal,” I usually like to understand what they are interested in seeing first. At the same time, I always make room to learn about the history, art, and culinary sites of the city. Typically, I take visitors to see different art and photo galleries in Chelsea. After that, we’d continue to enjoy a walk around the highline and grab dinner at a new restaurant in the area, like for example Little Spain and have some tapas. Furthermore, I often recommend visiting the South Street Seaport area and stroll around this older part of the city and immerse yourself in history. I would of course go to Brooklyn, cross the Brooklyn Bridge, and spend an afternoon overlooking the sunset of the city from Dumbo, while finishing the night with some dinner and drinks around the area. Lastly, I would recommend going to Soho to walk around the streets. I’d make a stop at Union Square’s farmer’s market, enjoy a Broadway show, and make sure to experience a rooftop bar sunset.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I enjoyed a book called, “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. This book gives you valuable tools on how to be creative, despite your fears. It explains how ideas are out in the world and how creativity is developed. It is all about overcoming your fears and being able to let your creativity flow towards the things that you are most passionate about. I loved reading this book, particularly when I was really anxious about what was happening due to the pandemic and had to stop working on personal photo projects. I was really scared and thought that my ideas and inspiration were vanishing. But after reading this book it helped me continue working on them differently, while feeling the joy of the process again.
Website: www.photouno.com www.patriciaburmicky.com
Instagram: @photouno @patriciaburmicky
Facebook: @PhotoUnoPhotographySchool @PatriciaBurmickyPhotography
Yelp: PhotoUno Photography School
Priscilla Bee Francisco Lyons Synthia Steiman