Toni Riales from Studio TRP

Toni Riales from Studio TRP

Welcome to podcast episode number 3 of the Mobile, Alabama Business podcast with Toni Riales. My name is Marcus Neto. I own Blue Fish Design Studio, a digital marketing and web design company based in downtown Mobile. I'm the host of Mobile Alabama Business podcast where we talk to local entrepreneurs and business owners about their businesses and how they got started. I'd like to thank you for spending time with us today. In today's show, I sit down with Toni to learn more about how she got started in the commercial and fashion photography business. Toni and I have known each other for 6 or 7 years and occasionally she let me come shoot with her, but only if I promise to behave. Toni is a former radio DJ, but now runs Studio TRP in downtown Mobile. She is regularly called upon to shoot for the likes of Austal, Mobile Bay Monthly, IP Biloxi, and her work has appeared in Mode Miami and Fashion Chicago, among others. So let's start right in with Toni Riales of Studio TRP.


Marcus: Toni, I would like to thank you for coming on the podcast today.

Toni: Thank you, I appreciate you having me.

Marcus: Absolutely. To get started, tell us a little bit about TRP Studios and about yourself and just a little bit about the business.

Toni: Studio TRP is downtown Mobile. We've been in downtown Mobile for about 3 and half years, something like that. Previously before that we've been over on Downtown or Loop West which wasn't a bad place to be if you didn't mind getting in the car and drive in different locations, so we wanted to be downtown because of walking distance to a bunch of different places where we could shoot.

Marcus: Absolutely.

Toni: Mostly we shoot fashion and commercial and the word commercial is a big umbrella that encompasses a lot of things. So, it can be anything from an actor head shot to a model comp card to hotel rooms and food and our magazine cover something like that. So it has a bunch of uses to that word.

Marcus: Anything that is used to sell a product or a service; that’s what I've used in the past for the title “commercial photography”. So, how did you get started in this business cause I know a little bit about your story, but you were a radio DJ before this. So how did you get - that's quite a switch - how did you get started as a photographer?

Toni: Well, I started in radio when I was 15 years old, and I really thought that was what I was gonna do until I died. And I didn't really like it. Let’s be honest, I didn't really enjoy it and if you know me you know I would be terrible if I had a boss, well I was terrible, I was a horrible employee. When I married Bill he had three lovely kids the oldest of which was 9, and as she grew up, she was getting prettier and taller and prettier and taller and I was always coming up with, or trying to come up with things for us to do together. It was my first time, only time as a step-mom and I was probably overreaching, I was probably overdoing it but I was wanting everybody to be great and happy. Every weekend we had photo shoots in the garage. I had an old film camera that had passed down to me when my dad died and it was a 35 mm Minolta, matter of fact it sits right in my studio lobby, right over there.

Marcus: Very cool.

Toni: I put up a black table cloth that I found at a yard sale somewhere as a background and I use some lights from Home Depot, not actual studio lights but like shop lights and shot a whole bunch of blurry yellow photos. But as I got into the gallery better - we didn't have Photoshop back then, we also didn't have digital so it was all film all the time - I eventually made a little portfolio for her by the time she have to be about 16, 17 years old and one day I'm sitting in the radio booth and I'm working. I'd been doing some of this on the side for a couple of years, never charged anybody. It was just about learning...

Marcus: The creative outlet.

Toni: Creative outlet, learning my craft, create a valid hobby I guess. A girl walked in, her name was Tina Powers and she was from LA and Phoenix. She had homes in both areas and she'd just walked in because she wanted to do some voice over work for the radio station. Have you ever met somebody where you just clicked automatically? Well, Tina and I clicked.

Marcus: Besides you?

Toni: Besides me, because you’re great. No, I still call you “Marcus Neato”, so whatever.

Marcus: Yeah it's all good if you're gonna mispronounce the name Neto. I've always said that.

Toni: One day - Tina and I became really good friends - and one day I was showing her the photos because I never showed it to anybody cause, you know when it's your first portfolio you don't know if its any good or not and you think, "This is crap. I'm not gonna show this to anybody this is my own private crappy book." So I showed it to her and she goes, "This is cute, this is fun. Do you mind if I send it to somebody?" and I said, "Sure." And so she send it off and she said she's gonna send it to somebody in Phoenix, so it was cool. Well she send it to a guy who walked it over to Ford Models in Phoenix and then that guy took-- [laughter] I know right. I didn't know any of those, thank to Lord, and then he took it and he mailed it to Ford New York. About 3 weeks...

Marcus: Let's pause there for just a second cause those that maybe listening that don't know the name Ford...

Toni: They think Ford, a motor company...

Marcus: No, you know I get that. But you should explain to us a little bit, I mean Ford is like?

Toni: Ford Models is the largest modeling agency on the planet. Been around since, I guess the 40s or 50s, Eileen Ford started it in New York, and they have offices all over the world. The guy in Phoenix, his name is Robert Black, he actually turned out to be really great dude and helped me a lot. About 3 weeks after Tina had taken the book in send it to Phoenix, I got a call from Ford New York, out of the blue, by the way. And they said, "We love Bobette, she's awesome we want to sign her but, she's never worked with anybody but you." I said “true,” and they said, "so she's in high school,” I said “true?" They said "well, can you drive her up to Chicago?" I was like “sure!” I had no idea, I guess, I said sure I can drive her to Chicago. It's about 5, 6 hours from Evansville, Indiana where we were at the time. So we set up a road trip and we went to Chicago probably that weekend, I don't remember it's 1999, it's been a long time ago. Ford set us up with some photographer there and so we went, we had a meeting on Friday, then we went to this photographer's house that he had rented or something for his photo shoot on Saturday. I was really excited about that by the way cause I had never seen anybody else shoot.

Marcus: Behind the scenes.

Toni: Ever, yeah! And there's a make up artist there, it was fabulous and I was so excited and I was bugging the crap out of them about what they would shooting with and he's like in a hurry didn't want to talk to the mom you know, about that kind of stuff and yeah. I didn't care I was like, "Hey, look at my book what's up!" So we did the shoot and then over the weekend we had to stay there because our next meeting was Monday morning before we were to drive back. So we stayed in Chicago for a couple of nights. Fortunately Tina, chick from Phoenix and LA, happened to have an apartment in Chicago. What are the odds? So she let us stay at her apartment, God bless her. We just kinda hang out and she got scouted a lot and then we went back in on Monday morning. Well the upshot of this is that the person who was signing Bobette, whose name, God bless her I cannot remember. She has such an impact on my life now I don't remember her name. She's flipping through Bobette's book cause the film had not come back from the other photographer yet. And she said, "So, who's your photographer?” and Bobette being 17 was like, "Her." She grabbed my hand and like, "Yeah it's me." and she goes, " So, you're a photographer. " I said, "Oh no. I'm a radio personality." And she said, "You don't do this for a living?" and I said “noooo” and she goes, "You should do this." And I said, "You can't make any money doing that." She goes, “Really?”

Marcus: Do you know what we pay our photographers? [chuckle]

Toni: She said, "I had to pay the photographer on Saturday." She said, "How much did you pay that photographer on Saturday?" I said, "I don't know $300." I knew exactly cause I don't have any money and I just scraped it up. I said $300 and she said “he had 10 that day.” And I was like, "What?" So Bobette came back with a Ford contract and I came back with my head on fire thinking, "Wow, that would be so cool to be able to do something."

Marcus: And you were located where at this point?

Toni: In Evansville, Indiana. There was no way I was gonna...

Marcus: So you're gonna tear it up in Evansville, Indiana--

Toni: No, no, no. There was nothing there, I mean nothing. No agencies, modeling or otherwise. They had a couple of advertising agencies that I worked with voice over-wise, but nobody was gonna take me seriously as a photographer, nobody. So, what I did was I just went to Bill’s station and all of the female reporters and anchors I was like, "Hey guys come shoot with me for free because it'll be fun.” And so I just practiced on those guys. One of them is on, I can't remember, she's on some national entertainment show now. ET I think.

Marcus: Very cool.

Toni: Michelle Turner.

Marcus: That's wild.

Toni: Yeah, I pleaded with them. I have bad pictures of you. [laughter]

Marcus: So how did the transition go from shooting those images for free, which I think is a lot I mean there's a similar story for a lot of people that go down that path of "Well I need to practice, so I'm just gonna offer to do photographs for people for free." Then at some point in time it clicks and you're like, "Okay I'm gonna start charging for this." So what did that look like in your case?

Toni: Well the transition for me was the move here and acquiring a business license and being legit in my own head. Does that makes sense?

Marcus: Right, confidence in your own abilities.

Toni: I guess, I mean part of it is-- I was not gonna charge people for photographs without paying the taxes on it because I didn't wanna start out a business by being shady and a lot of people do that and I'm not here to judge what people do and do not do with their taxes and with their money, but I teach a class at USA now and one of the first things I tell people is that, "Look man if you were charging people money, the IRS has Facebook too, man."

Marcus: NSA knows all

Toni: I mean all they have to do is go on Facebook and see how you did a senior session. It’s obvious you didn't do that senior session for free so...

Marcus: Be legit.

Toni: Be legit, if you can take a bunch of stuff of your taxes, it's not that bad.

Marcus: Well it's interesting because that opens up a whole different world for most people too. So if you have a business and a business license and you are an LLC, then you can now start to deduct your business expenses from the income and so you may still show…

Toni: When you're a business owner, a whole bunch of stuff is a business expense.

Marcus: And so you can almost break, you could work out and if you're just shooting the casual photographs you can almost end up being in the whole or breaking even. It's really just about being legitimate and above board, so that you're not getting yourself in trouble too.

Toni: You know I can't imagine with all the stress, and probably this is a little off topic but with all the stress that comes with owning...

Marcus: There's a topic here?

Toni: Yeah I know. With all the stress that comes with owning a business and then trying to be creative and running a studio and everything else, I can't imagine what it would be like to worry about stuff like that. I just don't wanna worry about stuff like that. That's how I feel, but that was the transition for me and moving down here, I had a portfolio that I put together and after I set around for about 3 to 6 months, kind of indecisive cause it was a big move. About a thousand miles, didn't know anybody I mean absolutely nobody. I sat around for about 3 to 6 months part of it in the fetal position probably, 'I don't know what to do.' I think one of the first things I did was I took the portfolio and I went over to Barefoot and I talked to Suzanne at Barefoot Models and she said to me, God bless her, she did not sugarcoat it, she said, "You've got good creativity, you got a couple of holes in your style and a couple of things where you lack training and you can see it, and I want you to work on those things and come back." I was like, “okay.”

Marcus: At least there wasn't a door in the face.

Toni: No, no. She gave me marching orders and I was totally down for that, and so I went and worked on it, probably for about a year, and then I came back.

Marcus: I mean you're not vocalizing it, but that shows resiliency because oftentimes, I hate the word you know “creatives” right (and I'm doing ere quotes as I say that), but as creatives, there's this kind of-- “if I get any kind of criticism, then oh my gosh I'm gonna cry it, meet a river in a corner” and not take that as constructive criticism and move forward and so there's...

Toni: I don't think creatives necessarily have to be dramatic, I think they like it and they wanna be dramatic and God bless them if that's how they wanna be, I can't. I just don't have that kind of a brain.

Marcus: Well let's be honest I mean you are dramatic but in a much different sense. [laughter]

Toni: I can be dramatic in a way that is productive.

Marcus: Yes, you're focused.

Toni: It was a rejection, but it wasn't. Does that make sense?

Marcus: Absolutely.

Toni: It was a rejection with a caveat. It was like, okay but I didn't feel bad about it at all. I didn't come home and cry in my beer and say “well, I guess I'm just gonna go work at Dillard’s." But I did, I did go work at Dillard’s… no, no, no I did! Well I couldn’t find make up artists and so what I did was I went to work for Dillard's at the Dior counter.

Marcus: Interesting.

Toni: So that I could… Yeah I'm a hustler man.

Marcus: Fill in that gap, learn everything you can about the industry that you're wanting to get into.

Toni: Why would I pay to learn how to be a make up artist when they could pay me?

Marcus: Right, it's really cool. I didn't know that.

Toni: But I also met other make up artist, so I didn't have to do it, cause I hated it too [crosstalk]

Marcus: No, but I think now even as a photographer, I've seen your work, so I know that you are working very closely with the make up artist and you oftentimes will give direction. The experience that you have I'm sure is… you're able to shape like what you're looking for and speak shorthand with them versus...

Toni: Well I'm able to tell them what I need without them having to decipher it.

Marcus: I'm saying that because I'm a dude and dudes don't know make up and so it's definitely something that if I was to go into that...

Toni: If you're a fashion photographer you would have to know that.

Marcus: I would not, that's why I'm not a fashion photographer. Ladies and gentlemen you heard it here first. What project have you been working on lately to build the business or there any efforts or anything that you've done or any special projects or nothing? Business is good, man.

Toni: [chuckle] It's been busy, actually. I usually take the entire first quarter and I do a special project because it's slow. In my business it's exactly, well I wouldn't say exactly, but I would say a lot opposite of traditional portrait, wedding and baby photographers because they're big season is Christmas, New Years, and Mardi Gras. That's my least busy season, as soon as probably, let's say the week before Christmas to right after Mardi Gras, I could really take a really extended vacation, usually. This year it wasn't like that, so I had a lot more just call-in, bookings, like come out of the blue than I expected, and so I didn't get to do my personal projects that I usually do. Usually, what I'll do is I'll set up a just some sort of wacky, something that's been in my head shoot that I don't know if I can do it or not.

Marcus: So before we started we were talking about some images that you took of a ballerina in an old building here. Was that a personal project? or was that, no that was actually a paid? Very cool.

Toni: Yeah it was a Bordello back in the day.

Marcus: Nice.

Toni: Yeah I don't think the model or the model’s mom knew that.

Marcus: Hopefully they're not listening.

Toni: I think I admitted it after it was over to the mom. I don' think-- obviously the 11 year old son know what that means but... I don't have a good answer for that question because I'm working on... I think the people that had been in here shooting with rather I get their photos done and edited, rather than work on my own stuff right now.

Marcus: Well if business is good oftentimes there isn't necessarily a need to work on any special...

Toni: Well maybe not business wise I think that, you know, if you have a passion for it you need to do it.

Marcus: Absolutely.

Toni: And I think that's something that if I were to say that there's one thing missing it's that.

Marcus: Your creative outlook.

Toni: Yeah, sure sometimes. Isn't that odd? You didn't expect that.

Marcus: I know you're in a creative position, but you know sometimes there can be a lack of creativity on it because...

Toni: Well.. because its creativity ere quotes on demand you know what I mean? It's like I want you to bring your thing to this, but they don't say that until 5 minutes before the shoot. You're like "Oh!"

Marcus: Yeah you got some license here.

Toni: Oh okay, yeah I got you.

Marcus: That's awesome. As a business owner, what's the one most important thing that you've learned over last, say 3 to 6 months.

Toni: 3 to 6 months?

Marcus: Yeah, what's something that...

Toni: That's so specific.

Marcus: Well okay, so what...

Toni: Since Christmas? What about learning it's Christmas. [chuckle]

Marcus: In the last year, what has Toni learned about running a business that another business owner might find helpful.

Toni: I don't know if they're gonna find it helpful or not, but I used to have this philosophy that “I'm just gonna see what happens.” It wasn't that I'm a laid back person, I'm not a laid back person.

Marcus: No, ladies and gentleman, she is not a laid back person.

Toni: I'm tightly wound, but I don't think I'm tightly wound in a--

Marcus: I would've said “driven.”

Toni: Oh my god that's annoying.

Marcus: Yeah, you're driven. I wasn't being derogatory.

Toni: Yeah, okay.

Marcus: Maybe just slightly.

Toni: A little bit. I'll take driven but, what I was doing was the sleeping beauty method of marketing. Which is basically where I was doing nothing but answering the phone.

Marcus: Waiting for the man to fall from the sky.

Toni: Waiting for the amazing unicorn prince on a horse to ride up and to give me the job of my dreams and you know that doesn't work. Meanwhile, I was doing bunch of stuff that I didn't like and I think it's okay to do some stuff you don't like, but I think if you're doing a whole bunch of stuff that you don't like you need to reevaluate it. I was griping one day to my husband about, I don't know, some client was running me around like a chicken with my head cut off. You know how they do, I said something about how I hated this particular situation, and it was something that I didn't do a lot. He said to me, "Honey, I do believe that it's your name on the door, right?" And I said “yeah.” And he said "That means do whatever you want and if you have to tell people no, tell them no." That was actually a big revelation for me cause I, to say no all the time when people call about weddings or infant shoots cause we have a really clear vision. Our website does not have any weddings on it, does not have any babies on it, but people are doing their Googling they're just that or whether they're getting my number, but they're just calling out of the blue.

Marcus: They also may like your look and think, well if I offer her money and she's available cause there are a lot of people in the photography industry that will shoot just about anything and it's not until they find their voice and find what it is that they're really good and really passionate about shooting that they, even in our industry there are certain clients that we just don't, we're not a fit for in the web designing digital marketing space. I mean I get it.

Toni: It's one of those things where and it's very rare, except for the things that we obviously don't do, for me to actually tell somebody, "No, I am not the person to do that for you."

Marcus: And it's fine for you to...

Toni: I think it's okay now.

Marcus: As a business owner I'm affirming you not that you need it, but...

Toni: I think it's okay now when I first came up against it, there was a moment of panic, there are several moments of panic, I was like, "Oh my god, I turned this down if I turn this down, then they're gonna talk bad about me." But you know here's the thing, I think it would be worse if I said yes to it and it didn't work out because I know something about the gut feeling I had was I was not gonna be able to make them happy. In whatever situation, I don't remember what situation.

Marcus: Well again your name is on the door and so...

Toni: Yeah my name is on the door but my name is also on the photographs. My name is in that metadata. I own that photograph, I had to take responsibility for that photograph and if it sucks, that's my problem. Sometimes, clients will come in and they'll wanna do something that is so not us. So obviously not us that you wonder why they came in the first place.

Marcus: Do they even look at the website or the portfolio...

Toni: No, no probably not and it's okay because you feel like you're doing them a favor at the end of the day and you recommended another photographer that would do a better job for them on whatever it is, and I sound like I do this all the time. I think I've done this maybe three times over the past year, but it's always been something that my first gut feeling is like, "Whoa, what is that? No, I don't think so." And that's pretty rare usually my first gut instinct just like 'oh that's cool', but you know...

Marcus: If you can make it work I know you have that kind of desire like, "Yeah if I'm being pushed in a creative direction and even if it's not something that we've done before will do it as long as it fits within the...

Toni: I have a thing coming up I think, it's still iffy, where I have to shoot out of a helicopter and when I tell you that I am scared to death, I'm scared to death! Somebody's gonna have to be up there holding my hand and say “it's gonna be okay.”

Marcus: Don't need a second shooter for that shoot by any chance it sounds like a lot of fun.

Toni: If so If I'll let you know. It would be a lot of fun.

Marcus: That sounds like a blast.

Toni: It'll be a lot of fun once I'm back on the ground and...

Marcus: Yes, terraferma. You were saying that basically the realization that your name is on the door and that you can basically say no, that freedom of being able to say, "This really isn't a project for me." and it's best for you as a business owner but also best for the client and in the end run because they're gonna get a better product if they're served by a photographer that actually can deliver the end result that they're looking for.

Toni: Absolutely and also I think it's a maturation of the business, your business meaning like your business, my business, whatever business. When you first get in business you're so excited you'll do... "Oh my god, you guys I have a studio. Freaking out!” And so you do anything, anything people ask you to and you do some really mediocre stuff. I'm not saying that everything that walks out of the studio is like cover of Vogue, no. What I'm saying is that everything that goes out of the studio I'm okay with and there are some things that go out of the studio that I'm like stoked about and every once in a while there's something that goes out of the studio that I'm like, "Oh hell yeah. I did that." and I think that's a good balance. I don't think you can have the intensity of "Oh hell yeah" moment everyday I don't think you can, but I think you can at least feel good enough about what you did for that executive that had to come in on his lunch hour and get his head shot taken for conference that he's gonna be in in a couple of weeks that he has to have head shots.

Marcus: You want him to look good because that's a reflection not only of you but of him.

Toni: Right and when actors come in, God bless them, when you think about the responsibility that the photographer has when doing actor head shots, because it's huge.

Marcus: Yeah casting directors are making the rash decision in 30 seconds.

Toni: They're making a decision based on one photograph sitting in front of them as to who gets an audition and who doesn't and if the photograph is not right then they're not getting jobs or not even getting auditions and they don't know why. So we do a lot of stuff with body language and there's actual body language to wardrobe that we have conversations with them about and so that by the time they lead the actor head shot, they know what they should wear to the audition.

Marcus: That's cool cause I would think of that as almost like a business interest positioning so depending on what types of roles you're wanting to get, whether be from a model or for an actor, from whomever, you're gonna want to position yourself and part of that is the way you dress and the way you present yourself in the photograph that you put out there. So if you put out there a picture of yourself like, if I'm a business professional and I put a picture in LinkedIn at myself in a t-shirt and flip flops with a Miller Light in my hand that was taken with an iPhone and obviously a very dark venue then...

Toni: They’re not hiring you.

Marcus: Then you're not gonna look at me the same way as I would if I have a very professional look whether be casual or more business attire with good lighting that is processed appropriately and so on and so forth. It's definitely a positioning tactic. So I wanna talk to you a little bit about like I know that I as again, creative cause I'm searching for another word for those of us that are in this type of industry where we are creating things, right. But I have influences that have shaped who I am as a photographer and as a web designer and so on and so forth. Do you have any of those, are there any people or blogs or books or anything that you've read recently that kind of shaped or influenced you?

Toni: Yeah I have a couple of books in my lobby right now one is from Helmut Newton and one is from Annie Leibvoits and those are all--

Marcus: Couldn't drop any bigger names?

Toni: I know it's a little bit-- I know it's not like I'm gonna go out and try to be Annie Leibvoits, I mean, come on. I just to have a budget for one day...

Marcus: As in a million dollar shoot with no limitations.

Toni: That's all I'm talking, a budget of Annie for one day, but I think that if you're gonna be inspired you should be aspirational about it. I do follow lot of blogs, mostly for me it's for lighting or location ideas or stuff like that. But as far as like things that inspire me I think I get my inspiration not just from other photographers, I get my inspiration from a lot of different places and as a creative ere quote ere quote you know that inspiration strikes you in the shower or when you're on the toilet, or when you're brushing your teeth or in the car...

Marcus: And quickly opening Siri to dictate whatever idea it is on the Evernotes so you're not- don't lose it, that was-- It's definitely a moment.

Toni: Well sometimes, you do lose it because you're in the shower, you can't get it all in the shower door, foam of the shampoo. Sometimes you just, you're not gonna get it all and… but it's one of those things where as far as other photographers are concerned, I think that they all inspire me at some point or another. I'm on social media a lot and I look through a whole lot of other people stuff and while I'm not a wedding photographer somebody might shoot something at a wedding that I'm like, "Oh that's cool." I like that or I like how they did that and that might influence how I shoot a product the next time, or how I shoot a model next time or how I shoot a food, piece of food, you know what I mean.

Marcus: Shoot food.

Toni: Shoot food.

Marcus: Yes. What hobbies do you have? What do you like to do in your free time?

Toni: Hobbies, that's hilarious asking a business owner what hobbies, like I have time for a hobby.

Marcus: Of course well because I think there's some-- here's what I'm looking for, okay.

Toni: Fine, what are you looking for?

Marcus: So as a business owner, I know that there are certain things that fill out my average day, right? So the next question is, which you're kinda go into as, what does an average day look like for Toni? Do you have certain things that you do every morning that help you get primed for starting the day --

Toni: Sometimes. I’m not like you. I'm not the guy that gets up at 4 o'clock in the morning, goes to the gym, because I'm a business owner.

Marcus: She's got my number folks.

Toni: I know, totally because I do own the business part of me, the part of the first thing that I did was I established the kind of hours that I like, and I don't let people talk me out of that unless it's a big deal. My day doesn't start early, I don't have an alarm clock, I don't believe in alarm clocks, I think they're rude.

Marcus: That's awesome.

Toni: I get up when I get up.

Marcus: Alarm clocks are rude [chuckle].

Toni: Alarm clocks are rude. I usually start shooting at around ten, so most of the time I wake up 7:30 or 8 o'clock something like that and then- I'm a creature of habit so I eat the same breakfast every morning and I watch the same television show.

Marcus: So I gotta ask, what's the breakfast?

Toni: The breakfast is yogurt and granola, lovely, and the television show is my husband's TV show and then I watch a little bit of CBS this morning and I take a shower and I put on a pair of jeans, usually.

Marcus: No sweats?

Toni: No, I don't wear sweats most of the time, but I will wear some cargos and lot of them are ill-fitting. I will be really honest with you.

Marcus: So good, I'll make a joke but I know that oftentimes photographers find themselves in odd positions and so you can't exactly wear--

Toni: If you're shooting a wedding you do have to dress appropriately, but here I am sometimes I'm shooting, God knows what it is, I mean I could be on a roof with tar, I could be lying in the street for some reason. If you see me downtown, you probably not seen me upright and normal. So I don't wear fancy clothes, no, and it's a lot of Chuck Taylor Converse sneakers and cargo pants.

Marcus: Absolutely. But going back to the books, are there any books there besides the influence that other photographers have had, do you read business books or is that not really something that's on your--

Toni: No, I read fiction cause I think I need to escape. I read a lot, I have an actual-- I don't have a dining room in my house, we made it into a library.

Marcus: Very cool.

Toni: Yeah, but I actually have actual books, not like reading on my tablet.

Marcus: Physical books?

Toni: Yeah, as you know I'm weird and I like the smell of a book.

Marcus: I've actually gone back because I find that carrying a book with me is that there's something about that physical manifestation and I don't know if it's just guilt that okay where if it's that I can actually see like how far I've made it through the book and I see that as encouragement. I haven't quite come to grasp what that is, but I've gone back to physical books because when I buy books in iPad, I just find that they just grow virtual dust on them, that they just sit there and so I've-- anyway, going back to physical books as well, as geeky as I am.

Toni: So you know I don't read self-help or business books at all. I feel like I'm in business world a lot, and I feel like reading is-- for me, reading is my down-time and I don't wanna feel obligated to think too hard.

Marcus: Right, I can understand that. So where can people find you?

Toni: Well, online I'm at www-- wait a minute! People don't even do that anymore, do they?

Marcus: No www.

Toni: Oh God, I forgot. and it's spelled like Riales, I mean that's always been an issue because my name is not, it's not like 'hey,’, it's just my name, and of course I'm on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, I could always use my followers and--

Marcus: What are those usernames that you...

Toni: Literally, Toni Riales and I think on Facebook, the likes page at the business page, is Studio TRP but either one works I think.

Marcus: So if somebody's looking for you they can find you.

Toni: They can totally find me.

Marcus: Or they can just go to your website and find you that way.

Toni: Just go to the website and I'm downtown Mobile on Conception Street. Lots of people walk by and they look at the comp cards in the window.

Marcus: Exactly, I mean I know you're right off of Bienville Square here.

Toni: About half a block.

Marcus: If you all are listening and needing good head shots for whatever purpose, then definitely look Toni up. I want to thank you for coming on the podcast. To wrap up, are there any final thoughts or comments or anything that's just free form that you like to share?

Toni: Well you know you're mentioning actor head shots and one of the things that I like about this business is that it's really external, and to me that means, is that I'm not doing this necessarily just for me. When I take an actor head shot the whole goal for the whole shoot, the whole time is to get that actor some work. When I'm doing a model comp card, the whole point of the entire half day shoot is to make them not only look like they've worked before, but to give them enough training and coaching during the model photo shoot so that they can go to their first page shoot and actually know what they're doing.

Marcus: And have the confidence too knowing that...

Toni: And have some confidence knowing that they've been through this, it's a little bit of a mini boot camp, it kind of is. So it's totally external for us because we know that at the end of the day it's not about us looking at pictures in our own little closets, it's about other people outside of us looking at them and not just about being judged or like an art piece, it's about actual commerce at that point.

Marcus: This is gonna make a difference in somebody's life in some way.

Toni: Hopefully yeah.

Marcus: And I can see that, so well I do appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey as a business owner and an entrepreneur and until next time.

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