Lights, Camera, Connection : The Secrets to Crafting Heartwarming Family Films with Colie James

We talk a lot about photography on this podcast, naturally, but have you ever thought about dabbling in family filmmaking? If it felt intimidating or you didn’t understand the tech behind it, or maybe you haven’t even heard of it, it’s OK, we’ve got you covered. 

Also, if something’s not in your wheelhouse as a creative, don’t worry, you can outsource it instead. There’s absolutely someone out there who thrives in the areas you are too busy or too frustrated to do on your own. That’s the beauty of the creative business sphere, isn’t it? 

In today’s episode, I’m interviewing Colie James, a photographer and family filmmaker, a podcast host, and a workflow and automations guru. Colie shares advice on the tech side of filmmaking, the mistakes she sees people make the most (and how to fix them!), and the importance of outsourcing tasks from your business so that you can do more of what you love.

What’s in this episode:

  • [04:02] Colie shares about her love of filmmaking, family sessions, and how she paired it all together
  • [06:20] We get techy and discuss filmmaking equipment – gimbals, tripods, iPhones, cameras, external mics, and more
  • [16:46] Colie shares the 3 beginner mistakes she sees most often when it comes to filmmaking
  • [18:32] Colie’s advice for multi-passionate creatives and doing what makes you happy, and how outsourcing makes it all possible 
  • [23:12] Colie shares the most fun filmmaking project she’s worked on and it’s not what you expect

Tune in to this episode for advice on getting into family filmmaking, and how outsourcing can streamline your business and your life!

SUBSCRIBE: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher

And if you want to hear more from Colie and how makes the most amazing heart-warming family films, she’ll be teaching at our online 2023 Family Retreat! (Grab your spot now!)

Resources Mentioned

Episode 92, Reclaim Your Time – Using Automation Strategies To Create A Profitable And Sustainable Photography Business With Colie James

Link to Colie’s gimbal rec? 

Colie’s film editor, Jenn at Films of Life

Meet Colie

Colie James is a Disney-loving family filmmaker, Workflow & Automations Guru, and the host of the Business-First Creatives podcast. Based in Denver Colorado, her heart pumps in helping photographers & creative service providers automate their sh*t, reclaim their time and get back to living!

With 10+ years in the creative space, Colie believes every creative deserves to build a business that is sustainable and profitable, and no one should quit their 9 to 5 only to work 24/7 [in their business].

The truth—automated systems can save us all from being overworked and overwhelmed.

Connect with Colie

Visit Colie’s website

Visit Colie’s photography website

Follow Colie on Facebook

Follow Colie on Instagram

Follow Colie on YouTube

Did this episode inspire you to dabble in family filmmaking and outsource your business? Check out this episode Family Filmmaking – Documentary-Style Family Films with Anja Poehlmann


[00:00:00] Colie James For those of you who want to dabble in filmmaking, there’s two parts. There’s the actual getting of the footage, and then there’s the making of the film. And I just want to tell you, there is actual outsourcing for the making of the film. I have one of my clients that once I told her I hired a filmmaker, like a film editor. Oh, she hired my film editor. So all she does is go to Sessions and get, like, video clips? And then she just sends them to the film editor. And the film editor makes an amazing film. So you don’t have to figure that out if that’s not in your wheelhouse. That is something that you can outsource. 

[00:00:35] Lisa DiGeso Welcome to the Art and Soul Show where we dive into heart opening chats on photography, business life and that messy in between. I’m your host, Lisa DiGeso, a mom, a photographer and entrepreneur, and I’ll be sharing honest conversations and advice for photographers with insight on mindset, entrepreneurship and creativity. The goal of this podcast is for you to be able to gain insights and strategies that will get you real results. Because let’s face it, having a photography business can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. This is the place you can go when you need a boost of encouragement, a kick in the pants and inspiration to pick up your camera. This is the art and soul show. 

[00:01:18] Lisa DiGeso Hello, my beautiful friends. Welcome back to the show today. I’m super excited to dive into today’s conversation with Colie James. Colie is a Disney loving family filmmaker, workflow and automations group guru and the host of the Business First Creatives podcast. Based in Denver, Colorado, her heart pumps in helping photographers and creative service providers automate their shit, reclaim their time and get back to living. With ten plus years in the creative space, Colie believes every creative deserves to build a business that is sustainable and profitable, and no one should quit their 9 to 5, only to work 24 seven in their business. The truth Automated systems can save us from being overworked and overwhelmed. Welcome back, friend. We’re laughing because, oh my gosh, it’s been a riot trying to just get us recording and it’s just a day to day to day. So welcome. 

[00:02:10] Colie James And thank you. Lisa. It’s so exciting to be back on the podcast. 

[00:02:15] Lisa DiGeso So those of you that haven’t met Colie yet, you have to go back to episode 92 where she first joined me. We had an awesome conversation there, so I am really excited to have you back on the show. So welcome. So those are those that haven’t met you yet. Can you share maybe a little bit about who you are and maybe something that is really awesome that is happening in your world right now? 

[00:02:35] Colie James Well, I mean, like Lisa said, I’m obsessed with Disney, so I’m excited to be going back to Disneyland tomorrow for my first official adult trip with my bestie. So that’s what’s going on in my world right now. It has nothing to do with business other than the fact that I’m trying to make sure that I get everything taken care of before we leave tomorrow. Other things in my world is that in the last couple of years, my business has kind of flopped from doing photography, filmmaking, mentoring to doing more of the system set up. I mean, I still love family photography, making family films. My current clients will never get rid of me, but I am currently in a phase where I am not taking new clients. So that is new. Since the last time that I was on the podcast. 

[00:03:16] Lisa DiGeso Yeah. And you know, I am in the same situation I decided in I guess January just to like take a sabbatical, take a hiatus just from shooting and just really double down and focus on Milky Way and the podcast and just all the things I do with that. So it’s been interesting and just different, right? 

[00:03:33] Colie James Very different, Yeah. 

[00:03:35] Lisa DiGeso So what I love to do is we mentioned before we got on, you’re actually going to Disney and your bestie is someone that was on the podcast too, and Kate So I’m really excited. I can’t wait to see all the videos and the reels and everything from your adventure. So we’re going to switch gears a little bit because we’re going to be talking today about family films, and filmmaking actually, is actually going to be one of our amazing instructors for the upcoming online family retreat that happens in June of 2023. So can you share maybe a little bit about your love of filmmaking, family sessions, and how you sort of paired it all together? 

[00:04:10] Colie James So the funny thing is, I like to tell people I’ve done family films since before they were cool. I mean, literally the entire time I’ve had my photography business, I have recorded video at the same time. I actually started from the very beginning. Now I’m going to tell you the films that I made in the beginning, just outright fact. I mean blown highlights, not knowing where my shutter speed needed to be. I mean, it was the worst of the worst, like not using an external mike. So that the audio, yes, I mean, every single mistake that I am going to help you correct inside the next family photography retreat I did in the very beginning of my family filmmaking days. So that’s how I got started. I literally was recording the video clips alongside with the photos the entire time. And the thing that’s kind of changed over the last ten years of doing this is in the beginning I was doing what we used to call fusion, so I wasn’t making full family films. I was just getting like maybe ten video clips in every session. And then I would make them a fusion slideshow where it was images and then a couple of video clips sprinkled in so that you could hear the baby cry. You could hear your toddler laugh, those kinds of things. And then in 2014, so I mean, two and a half years in, I went to a session and it happened to be older kids. They were, I want to say like 14 and 12. Maybe they were preteens or teenagers. And when I left that house and I went home and I downloaded, I was like, Wow, there’s enough here for like a whole film. And so I sat down and I made a film from beginning to end, and I was like, Oh, yeah, we’re not doing fusion anymore. From now on, it’s all family films. And so that was when I finally started offering the film in its entirety. 

[00:05:53] Lisa DiGeso I love that so much. I dabble in family films, like I’ll Do it for a few. And what I think is the most powerful is for families. It’s always those in-between moments that, you know, it’s when you put your camera down and what’s what’s going on behind the scenes. It’s like a toddler being goofy or like prompting the toddler to say, I love you to like the new baby and like, getting that recorded. Like, yeah, it’s gold, it’s gold. It’s been just like such a delight. So I’ve I love filmmaking, but do you find, like when you watch movies and and when you’re watching things like you’re looking and watching how they do it, how they’re panning, Like I’m always like, looking what kind of gimbals, Like what kind of things that they’re using. I want I like, go on like behind the scenes of, like filmmakers on, on Instagram just to see how they film things. I’m such a nerd. I love it so much. I’m so curious. And funny thing is, I really don’t do much in the way of film. 

[00:06:48] Colie James I love it. You just obsessed with I mean, you do like tech, though. Come on, Lisa. 

[00:06:54] Lisa DiGeso You do like that Love tech. I love tech so much. So I want to ask about gimbals, actually. So if you don’t know listeners where Gimbal is, it’s something that you would put your camera on just to stabilize it. So do you using Gamble and is there one that you recommend? 

[00:07:07] Colie James So here’s the thing, Lisa. There are three gimbals in this house, in this office in particular. I like to collect gimbals. I don’t like to use gimbals. Okay. I know it’s pretty sad. Off the top of my head. I can’t tell you which two gimbals I have because also I bought those gambles at least four years ago. So they’re probably not the current models, but I’m going to give that to you. When we stop recordings that you can put it in the show notes. But I buy a gimbal and I try it out. But I think where I struggle is going between the filmmaking and the images. And I have two bodies, so it’s not even like I couldn’t leave one image, one camera on the gimbal just and pick it up when I need it. But I will also say for myself, I have very steady hands and I actually forgot for a while how steady my hands were until I was mentoring someone in filmmaking. And she was not using a tripod, a monopod, a gimbal, no stabilizer. And when I looked at her footage, I was like, You look like you were driving in a car while you were filming this. So I’ve been able to get away with just handheld video for almost eight years now without the use of a stabilizer because I have steady hands. But what I will say is that in my longer sessions, or when I’m trying to film something, at the same time, I’m taking photos of it like imagine a birthday party, guys, one year olds blowing out their candle. I don’t want to choose between the singing of Happy Birthday on film and then the taking of the photo when they blow out the candles. So I usually put a camera either on a tripod or a monopod next to me to film the entire thing and get the audio on an external mic while I’m going back and forth between pictures and videos on my main camera. 

[00:08:48] Lisa DiGeso That’s smart. Now, have you have you done much in the way with iPhones at all or like our phones? Because like, they’re getting better and better. Right. And in fact, my phone actually died yesterday. My 13 pro it just like was in my hand. And all of a sudden it just the screen turned black and it just died. And I took it to the computer store that I got from there. Like, yeah, there’s no signs of life. Like, I was like, It’s new. 

[00:09:12] Colie James What? 

[00:09:13] Lisa DiGeso Like, what did you do? I’m like, I didn’t do anything, but I’m. 

[00:09:15] Colie James Just holding. 

[00:09:16] Lisa DiGeso It. I was holding it and died. So yeah, I think I’ll be upgrading to the newest one, which is like. 

[00:09:22] Colie James Yeah, well it’s currently the 14 pro. Yeah. And I plan to get one at Christmas and then I couldn’t find one that can be delivered in less than two weeks. So I’m still sitting with the 12 pro, I mean it’s a decent one. Yeah. But here’s the thing. Cameras, the cameras on your phone actually take incredible film. They can film up to 4K. The only reason that I wouldn’t shoot videos on my iPhone at a session is I feel like the clients would judge me totally for charging them that much money to take phone footage. But I will tell you, like if I actually recorded on my phone, they probably would not be able to tell the difference when I made the film. So it’s really just I’m worried about, you know, getting those responses like, Wait, I paid you and you’re just going to take it on your phone. So instead, I mean, I use my $6,000 z9, which is like a massive camera to do my videos. But if I wasn’t worried about a client being like, really? I mean, I would totally record video on my phone. 

[00:10:23] Lisa DiGeso Totally. Right. I think it’s interesting. I actually had a client and she messaged she had her 40th birthday was coming up and she’s like, what I really want is just a few photos. But what I really want is like a reel. I was like, you Just like you want me to do a reel thing. 

[00:10:40] Colie James Well, I mean, it’s all my rage. 

[00:10:43] Lisa DiGeso I’m like, here’s my price for this, right? But, like, I found that really fascinating, that the things that sometimes they think that we take for granted that we know how to do so easily and we can do well and quickly, that we’re like our clients actually don’t always know how to do that. So I was like, This could be something that I add in at some point. Interesting, right? 

[00:11:02] Colie James Yes. And the other thing that I want to say about iPhones, because, hey, if you are at a session and you are taking photos and you want to just get a few video clips and take them on your phone, you’re not charging your clients, I say go for it. The two things that I would say, though, about using iPhone footage versus like a real camera is number one stabilization. Lisa already asked me about a gimbal, but the truth is, with the new mirrorless cameras, most of them have in-camera stabilization. So while a gimbal is good, like your camera is already doing some of the work, that’s number one. Number two, an absolute must have is an external mic when you are filming on a professional camera. And I would say the same is true on your phone. So if you want to dive into it, great. I just think that you should invest in one of those plug in mikes so that the sound quality of what you are getting when you’re dabbling and taking these small video clips while you’re at a session, have good audio quality. 

[00:11:58] Lisa DiGeso Totally. And you know what’s really funny is like since we started the quality of the mics and the prices of them have really come down. Like when we started, it was like a sign Heizer lapel mic that I got, and I think it was like 1200 bucks. But you can get a really decent, like a road one that you put on your camera. I just picked up a new one for like 100 bucks. 

[00:12:20] Colie James I have so many roads and I also have the wireless go. Yeah, I have those too. 

[00:12:26] Lisa DiGeso Right? Yeah, I know. I am a gear junky. I love it. Actually, what I. What I just found, too, was this adapter that you could put on your hot shoe for your iPhone. So while you are shooting, you can actually just take some video while you’re shooting right from there. The angle is not always the best like especially if you’re doing a newborn session. But if you’re doing a family session, like, I was like, oh, I’d like to try this with a family session just for like some behind the scenes for like maybe social media kind of stuff. 

[00:12:57] Colie James Yeah, you just have to make sure that you remember, like after you’ve taken your photos not to move the camera. I continue to hold the camera until you are done with the video clip because you don’t want your  small video clip to be up and down, up and down, up and down. 

[00:13:10] Lisa DiGeso Yes, I love it. I love it. So what I actually wanted to ask about is because I currently have a d5, so I’m Nikon and I think you’re Nikon, too, right? 

[00:13:21] Colie James Yeah, I have a Z9, which is the mirrorless equivalent. 

[00:13:23] Lisa DiGeso What do you find like because you probably went from like on mirrorless or whatever, What is it called? 

[00:13:28] Colie James Mirrored, right. I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s just a regular DSLR. But hey, I’ll go with that mirror. Really? 

[00:13:36] Lisa DiGeso I realized that, right? So, like, the autofocus is brutal with the older models? It is. So do you find with the newer ones? Because I have the, I think, seven to like, I haven’t really played with it with video yet. Do you find the autofocus is way better? Because it was before it was like push, pull, lift. 

[00:13:54] Colie James That’s amazing. So let me say some things for the audience in case they have an older camera. So a lot of times one of the biggest mistakes that I see people try to do when they jump into filmmaking is they try to use autofocus. And the truth is, no one should be using autofocus when they’re doing this until you get the hang of it. So if you have an older DSLR, if you use AutoFocus, you can actually hear the focusing of the lens inside of the internal microphone. 

[00:14:21] Lisa DiGeso Yeah, that part. 

[00:14:23] Colie James The first thing is get an external mic like immediately. But the second thing is that on the older cameras, the autofocus is so bad if your subject moves even a little bit, it is not a smooth transition from one focal plane to the next. It’s very jerky, which is what you’re hearing in the microphone. But the new mirrorless cameras, like if your subject moves, the focus is smooth as it follows them. And so it is worlds better now than it is then. But even though autofocus has improved a lot, I still encourage people to do what I call focus record. So you turn autofocus off, you have it, you know, still you focus on your subject and then you hit record. Because the truth of the matter is, unless the kids are running towards you or doing something really crazy, they’re going to stay in the focal plane. And so then you’re not struggling against making sure that the autofocus is smooth and that you have jerky footage now. Then you can start to practice on like autofocus and seeing what the camera is capable of. Because one of the things that I love to do is if I have people who are like in two different focal planes on my touchscreen, if I’m focused on the person. Next to me and I touch the person on the screen in the back. My camera will actually slowly change the focus from the front to the back. But that’s something that you have to set in your camera. So again, like don’t just try to use autofocus out of box. Like when you’re trying to get the hang of like your stability, making sure that you’re getting clips that are worthy. I just really recommend that no one throw AutoFocus in at the same time. 

[00:15:59] Lisa DiGeso I love it because it must give that sort of like push pull like that cinematic look that you really want. And you’re like, Oh my God, that looks so professional. You’re like. 

[00:16:06] Colie James Oh, you just touched it. Didn’t like it. I mean, because before I would set the focus and then on my fingers, I would turn it clockwise, hit record, and then I would slowly bring my fingers back to like three and nine or whatever it is that I was thinking about. So that’s what we had to do before when the autofocus on the cameras was not that great. Now if you have anything like a z6 as the seven, as the nine for Nikon, if you have like an A7 or higher for Sony, or if you have the amazing r5r6 from Canon, they all have great autofocus. Eventually you’ll be able to depend on that a little more. 

[00:16:45] Lisa DiGeso I love that. Good tips. So I want to ask about because you mentioned a little bit about mistakes that you see. Are there any other mistakes that you see when it comes to beginner filmmaking that you can address? 

[00:16:56] Colie James I’m going to recap the ones that I already said just to make sure that they get. So the first thing is that people try to do autofocus from the beginning before you learn how to actually use the camera. The second one is that people think that the internal microphone is going to be good enough, and for 90% of the cameras, it is not. You need an external microphone. The third thing that I want to say that new filmmakers make as a mistake is their settings. Now, settings are very complicated, guys. We have frame rates, we have shutter speed. It would be no point for me to tell you all this in a podcast because it really doesn’t make sense unless you see it. Yeah. However, the mistake that people make is trying to record video at the same shutter speed that you took a picture. So those of us who do family photography, you’ve got a kid jumping in a bed, you want to freeze them, you’re shooting at least, I don’t know, 2/50 of a second, five hundredths of a second, basically as high as you can get it. If you try to record video at that same shutter speed, it will look very jerky because the amount of time that the shutter is open is leaving gaps. And so it will just look like there’s frames missing. It won’t be that smooth thing that you see on TV or in a movie theater. And so that is like the number one mistake that I see people make. And so what you want to do on your camera is either shoot at 1/60 of a second or one 1/25 of a second. That’s going to make sure that you have the smooth video if you’re using the default video settings on your camera. 

[00:18:31] Lisa DiGeso I love that. That’s great tips. So what I also love about you is you are clearly multi passionate about a lot of things and you are unapologetic about doing what makes you happy. So what advice do you have for someone thinking What will they think? Can I do this? How can we start taking ourselves so darn seriously? 

[00:18:50] Colie James I will say it’s been a struggle because I feel like I can’t balance it as well as I used to. I feel like, you know, a few years ago I could do anything. I could do anything and I could keep it all straight in my brain. And now I rely more and more on like my team. And so one of the things that you mentioned was the podcast. In reality, the only thing that I do for my podcast is invite someone with automatic workflows and Asado Yeah, and then I record the episode. I literally do not do anything else for the podcast. I have a podcast manager that edits, gets it up on Buzz Sprout, puts it on Apple, all that good jazz. My virtual assistant makes all of the social media videos that you see. So like while I love doing it and I did everything for the podcast for the first 2 to 3 months when I turned it over to them, it has given me the space to like, you know, homeschool my kid and do other things right that I need to do. And so, I mean, I like to say that I do many things, but the truth is, without hiring a team and having people help me, I wouldn’t be able to be anywhere near as productive as I currently am. 

[00:19:56] Lisa DiGeso I think that a lot of us resisted and, you know, like, do you think that we can do it all or we shame ourselves into thinking we should be doing it all because we think other people are doing it all? And the reality is like we’re all probably getting a little help and we need it, right? 

[00:20:12] Colie James And I mean, photographers, I think the two things that photographers outsource the quickest is editing and your bookkeeping. Like those are the two things that take up the most time and or you hate doing. But I mean, there are so many other things that you can outsource in your business related to marketing social media. And since this episode is all about filmmaking, I will say guys in December of 2021, I finally found someone to edit films. I thought that was the one thing that I would never give up. But I actually hired someone to edit my films and it was amazing and it was glorious. So for those of you who want to dabble in filmmaking, there’s two parts. There’s the actual getting of the footage, and then there’s them making the film. And I just want to tell you, there is actual outsourcing for the making of the film. I have one of my photo clients that once I told her I hired a filmmaker, like a film editor. Oh, she hired my film editor. So all he does is go to Sessions and get like video clips. And then she just sends them to the film editor. And the film editor makes an amazing film. So you don’t have to figure that out if that’s not in your wheelhouse. That is something that you can outsource. 

[00:21:22] Lisa DiGeso I love that. So tell me more. How did you find this editor? 

[00:21:26] Colie James So technically, she was one of my students. I don’t know that you know this, Lisa, but, like, you know, like, eight years ago, I had a couple of courses where I was helping, like, photographers who wanted to transition into documentary family sessions, in-home sessions. It was called The Business of Telling Stories. And she happened to be one of my students from then. And then fast forward a few years. She started an entire business on making films for like, consumers. So her actual business is like you as a mother. You’re you’re about to take this amazing vacation that we were chatting about before we hit record. But if you take a bunch of, like iPhone videos while you’re gone, you can send it to Jenn’s company and they will review all of your footage and make you like a vacation film. So that’s what she does. And I contacted her and I was like, Listen, I know you’re making consumer films, but any chance you want to edit my client films? And she was like, Sure. And so, you know, I sent her a couple and she did them. And I was like, okay, yeah, this is going to work. And then she just started editing all of my films. 

[00:22:29] Lisa DiGeso I love that. So she’s taking clients and can we add her info in the. 

[00:22:33] Colie James Show now, give you her in the show notes. Her business is called Films of Life. And so if you are not a consumer and you are looking for her to hire for like your client films, you’re probably going to want to shoot her a note and be like, Hey, I’m not a consumer, I’m a professional. I would like to hire you for these films. Or if you have vacation footage that’s just sitting around. Jenn’s your girl. 

[00:22:55] Lisa DiGeso I love that. I love that. I love that there is, like, options and I love it. Like, people are so creative and coming up with solutions where we have these gaps that we need help with. I love that. And I love that she was a student of yours. Like, talk about a full circle moment here. 

[00:23:09] Colie James Yes, definitely. 

[00:23:11] Lisa DiGeso So cool, So cool. So I want to ask, what has been the most fun project that you’ve worked on and like in regards to family films? 

[00:23:20] Colie James And see, the funny thing is you just got that. And what I was going to tell you was not family related. No, actually, you know what? I’m still going to tell you. 

[00:23:27] Lisa DiGeso Tell me. 

[00:23:28] Colie James I’m still going to tell you because a few years ago I got an inquiry in my email from a man wanting me to do commercial work. Those of you that I don’t do commercial work, right? So I ignored it. Kind of like a spam. I was like, This is not real. Two days later, he followed up with a voice message, saying that he wanted to talk to me about this project. And so, you know, I called him back and what they wanted to hire me to do was to film a dental practice photo and video for a rebrand on their website. And I was like, Have you seen my website? Like, Do you know what I do? And he was like, No, like, I don’t want a commercial photographer. I want you because of the way that you capture these families. We want that same feeling on our dental website. Now, I will say they are not a normal dental practice. First of all, they have like 20 locations. This is in Texas, inside of this dental practice, every single location they have gaming stations, they have a playground, they have a movie theater. And after the kids have their their dental visit, they get tokens to, like, buy things out of, you know, the little twisty things where you get the prizes. So it’s definitely not what you think of when you think of a dental practice. So I went and I did one for them. I did this one set of 20 locations, and then the next year they hired me to do a different brand, which also has like 13 locations. And then in the third year, they brought me back because they were redoing their corporate website and they wanted me to go to Mexico and document a humanitarian trip where they were doing dental work in Mexico. Now, I know this all sounds really ridiculous, guys, and so when people ask if I do commercial work, I’m like, No, I don’t do commercial work, but I do have a commercial client. And it’s because in this very specific instance, they really did want like the skills of my filmmaking and my photography, and they wanted me to get like the normal kind of expressions, the relaxed photos that I would get if I was inside your home. And so that was probably like the most fun project, probably because it took. Me out of my comfort zone. I mean, it’s so different than, you know, what I’m normally doing. I mean, we were managing I think each one of the shoots had at least like 30 models, like, you know, different families. The mom, the dad, the kids. I mean, I did it at like four different locations and yeah, I mean, and I went to Mexico. I mean, it was like a whole thing. But that was the most fun that I had. And it’s really where I kind of started thinking about the fact that I enjoy family photography, I enjoy family filmmaking, but there are actually other avenues where I can use those exact same skills in commercial work and get paid a lot more money. 

[00:26:11] Lisa DiGeso Totally. I love it so much. Oh, that’s so fun. You know what’s funny is I really love romantic looking work. Like my work has a very romantic look to it. And my mum said to me, she messaged me that she’s like, No, I have a friend who’s a romance novel writer. She’s like, Have you ever considered doing like book covers? I was like. 

[00:26:32] Colie James Oh my gosh, you’re right. 

[00:26:36] Lisa DiGeso I haven’t. But I could. 

[00:26:38] Colie James I could totally see you do that, Lisa. 

[00:26:39] Lisa DiGeso Totally. I would have so much fun. 

[00:26:43] Colie James Oh. 

[00:26:45] Lisa DiGeso Harlequin. 

[00:26:46] Colie James Oh, just. 

[00:26:49] Lisa DiGeso I don’t do boudoir. I just, you know, I do romantic not sexy. 

[00:26:52] Colie James There you go.  

[00:26:53] Lisa DiGeso Okay, So you ready for a lightning round? Sure. What are some little things that bring happiness into your everyday? 

[00:26:58] Colie James My daily latte that my husband puts by the bedside off of my fancy espresso machine. See how quick I got that, at least. 

[00:27:05] Lisa DiGeso I love. 

[00:27:06] Colie James It. It is my favorite thing. He bought it for me for Christmas in 2021 and it gets daily use. And the only problem that I currently have with traveling is that I wake up in the hotel rooms and there is no latte sitting on my nightstand. 

[00:27:19] Lisa DiGeso Is it the barista bambino? 

[00:27:21] Colie James No, it’s a tarot card. It’s completely automated. Yeah. So he doesn’t have to do anything. He just has to empty the coffee and refill the bean. 

[00:27:28] Lisa DiGeso Oh, my gosh. We got a barista bambino, and it processed the milk itself. And so I was like, This is fancy. My husband has now taken over like a little. He drinks like probably eight cups of coffee a day. Like to the point where I’m just like, I guess I’m drinking Keurig like. 

[00:27:47] Colie James I mean, that’s the funny thing in this household, my husband doesn’t drink coffee, so I had to teach him how to make them so that he made them correctly. 

[00:27:54] Lisa DiGeso Oh, that’s love. I love that. Okay. Favorite part of Disneyland. 

[00:27:58] Colie James My favorite ride is Guardians of the Galaxy. It is literally the only ride that still makes me scream every time I get on it. It’s fantastic. 

[00:28:06] Lisa DiGeso I love it. You know what’s funny is when we went to Disneyland, the line up was so long, we didn’t go on it. Oh. 

[00:28:12] Colie James No. I do it first thing in the morning. First thing in the morning, I wrote Drop to get in. And then I also do like the Genie plus Lightning Lane later in the day. 

[00:28:21] Lisa DiGeso There’s so many rides. We didn’t go on when we were there that we have to go back. What is your most random silly childhood memory? 

[00:28:28] Colie James So the funny thing is, you’re also going to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. And so I’m going to combine these two awesome, silliest thing about me, I think from when I was a kid is that I wanted to be a solid gold dancer. And the funny thing is, I don’t think anybody in your audience is going to know what that is, but it used to be like a dance show on television when I was like two or three. I’m very old guys, but I want it to be a solid gold dancer. That’s what I told everybody. 

[00:28:53] Lisa DiGeso Oh, my gosh, I love that. Do you have any personal projects going on right now? If you do, what is it? 

[00:28:58] Colie James I don’t really I’m not related to photography. Like, my personal project right now is surviving the rest of the year. Homeschooling my kid. That’s a big project. I have to survive that. 

[00:29:08] Lisa DiGeso So can I ask what made you make the switch to go homeschool. 

[00:29:11] Colie James Pandemic originally. And then Howie was she was still in virtual school at the beginning of this year. And for those of you that don’t know, I’m a mathematician by training, I also did teacher education. So those of you that are like, oh, well, you know, they teach it differently now. I mean, I know I used to teach the class, but when I looked at Chloe’s math test at the beginning of the year, I legitimately did not know what they were asking her to do. And it had nothing to do with, like new fangled curriculum, none of that. I just think the curriculum was so poorly put together. I don’t know what my kid was supposed to get out of like three of the 20 questions. And so I was like, okay, now. So I pulled her and we got her a reading specialist. And then I’m in charge of like math, science and social studies. 

[00:29:54] Lisa DiGeso Good for you. Wow. 

[00:29:56] Colie James I mean, she’s going back next year, Lisa. She’s 100% coming back. But I mean, you know, having her at home the last three years enabled us to do fun things like get this to Disneyland. And for an entire 14 months, we went every single month from Colorado. So, I mean, you know, that’s something that she’s going to remember fondly, hopefully exact when she’s old. 

[00:30:17] Lisa DiGeso You’ll love that. What three things do you want to be remembered for? 

[00:30:21] Colie James Yeah, I don’t know. Like, I feel like you should just take that question out. I legitimately have no idea what I should be remembered for. 

[00:30:29] Lisa DiGeso I love it. Well, I think you’re funny and cool. 

[00:30:32] Colie James I guess the three things that I want to be remembered. Or that I’m funny, I’m cool, and that I knew what the hell I was talking about. 

[00:30:38] Lisa DiGeso Exactly. Those are. 

[00:30:39] Colie James My three. 

[00:30:39] Lisa DiGeso Things. There you go. Oceans or mountains. And why. 

[00:30:43] Colie James Oceans? I mean, and the funny thing is, you know where I live? I live near the mountain, but I’m not a big mountain person. I’m not a hiker. But give me an ocean. Give me a beach. I’m in heaven. 

[00:30:53] Lisa DiGeso Yeah, Same. What’s for dinner tonight? 

[00:30:56] Colie James I mean, my favorite thing to cook is tacos, but unfortunately, no one else in my house eats them. So when I make them, it’s just for me. I know that. 

[00:31:04] Lisa DiGeso I’m coming for tacos. When do you feel most authentically yourself? 

[00:31:09] Colie James You know, at home? When I’m hanging out with my family. I mean, the way that you guys see me on social media is how I am in real life. And it’s funny, my clients often say that when I come into their house. Oh, wow, You’re just like you are on your website. Yeah, I do that on purpose. Isn’t it weird to, like, hire someone and they come to your house and they’re like, not the same? I mean, no. So I’m always authentic, but I feel like I’m most authentic when I’m at home with my husband and my daughter. 

[00:31:34] Lisa DiGeso I love that. Well, I think I may have asked you this question before, but you may have a different answer this time. So what has been the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given? 

[00:31:43] Colie James I don’t know that I was given this advice or if somebody told me and I just ignored them. But for the longest I fought against outsourcing like I had. No one could do anything in my business better than me. I’m definitely a type-A personality. I have to have my fingers in everything. And it wasn’t until I was forced to outsource the photography, like the editing, that I realized that it wasn’t as painful as I thought it was. And like, now, oh, anything that I add to my business, I’m like, Can I outsource that? Can I delegate that? Like, do I have to do that? So my attitude is completely different. But I would say that for the first four or five years of my business, I didn’t outsource anything. It was all me all the time. 

[00:32:23] Lisa DiGeso Yeah. And it’s like I remember jumping on a plane with my business partner Aaron, and just, like, bursting into tears because I had 30 seconds to edit. And she’s like, What do you feel like if you didn’t have that and you just, like, handed it to an editor? And I was like, ugly crying. It’s like, I think, I think you need help. I was like, I think I do, too. And so, like, by the time we landed, I had actually posted in a Facebook group. I had hired someone like crazy, right? Crazy like, boom, It’s like you make the decision and then it happens. And I had her for like six years until the pandemic. And then I stopped shooting and then just life, right? I just don’t see much right now. So where can our listeners learn more from you? 

[00:33:00] Colie James Okay, so my main website is now the Systems website, which is But if you are interested to see the photography side that is and on Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, anywhere else, I am just Colie James. 

[00:33:17] Lisa DiGeso I love it. Now can you also share what you’re teaching for the family retreat? 

[00:33:20] Colie James I am teaching family filmmaking how to make professional home videos for your clients. 

[00:33:25] Lisa DiGeso It’s going to be amazing. So I love to end my interviews with this last question, and it is What are you currently curious about or artistically curious about? 

[00:33:35] Colie James I mean, I’m curious what my business is going to look like in a few years. I’m currently, you know, I’m in the same place as you, Lisa. I’m trying to figure out, yeah, I transition and so I spend a lot of time trying to think about next steps and what it’s going to look like in 2 to 3 years and what my offer suite will be. And so just like being creative with making new offers, modifying the offers that I have now is what I find curious at this moment. 

[00:34:03] Lisa DiGeso I love that. You know, what really sparked my interest is when you were talking about the dental practice that had kind of just reimagined dentistry, you know what I mean? And I was like, Well, what if we did that for the photography industry? Like, what could we want reimagined if we’re like, we just changed up how we do business, how we like, serve our clients? What would that look like? Yeah, that’s interesting, right? Love it. Well, thank you for joining me today. 

[00:34:27] Colie James Lisa. Thank you so much for having me. It’s always a pleasure. 
[00:34:30] Lisa DiGeso Oh, my beautiful friends, I hope you enjoyed this conversation just as much as I did. I am sending you so much of my light and my love today and every single day. We will see you next time.

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