Lost video – Iconic portrait photographer Ken Whitmire explains how to sell Wall Portraits.

It was 2013 and I had been attending and teaching at the Wall Portrait Conference for a few years. But there was always something new to learn especially from Ken.

This man inspired most of the things I teach today in my Photography workshops and talk about on the Pro Photography Podcast. There were a half dozen of us in this small class and here’s the video found from that day.

There are not many videos of masters like Ken, Ansel Adams, and others from his time. But Whitmire carried on into the digital age.

So most people that go to a rockstar photographer’s class at the photo conference don’t realize that what they are being taught about being a profitable portrait studio is usually from Ken. He and others of the time like Stephen Wolf invented this stuff and creates that part of the industry. Ken has more awards than you could fit in your studio and was the Ansel of the portrait.

Ken taught the portrait industry.

Ken showed them how to create the Canvas Wall Portrait and in fact, he and colleagues like Stephen Wolf that came out of the 50’s era were the ones that create the idea of high-end canvas photo prints long before there was inked.

So when you see us young guys talking about projecting or selling wall art or creating art decor. We didn’t invent that. We learned it from Ken if we were lucky or we learned it from classes taught by photographers that Ken taught over the decades right up until he passed away in 2016.

My favorite portrait of Ken I took while helping him on a session on the Oregon Coast.

I shot this clip, a rare look inside Ken’s WPC classrooms.

It was often dark in these classes for projection and video was not as easy then. This was taken at Wall Portrait Conference, a 6-day workshop at Kens Studio that happened every Spring in Yakima Washington. Probably on an iPhone 4. I never named the file, and I never noticed it until today when I discovered it on my hard drive.

The also was bad, so I used Adobe AI POdcast audio took to restore it. It helped a lot, but that’s why it sounds a little strange at times as the audio had faded and the Ai is trying to restore it.

Wall Portrait Conference is not around anymore. But its message lives.

Even if it was, it would not be quite the same. Ken was always the engine behind WPC. Teaching is different now. It’s always an up-selling product, trying to be exclusive It’s TikTok youtube, and digital marketing. Those have value for us (well not TikTok). But us kids from this generation still can’t replicate his energy or his willingness to share. Nothing was held back in Ken’s classes and none of us could keep up.

When you go all in as I did in those days learning from Ken. When you stop thinking small and sell like this, you sell art for walls and it can transform your business. In this new world of fakery and Ai content, I think that authentic portraits like this will become even more important to people.

Ken passed in late 2016 and we all miss him. Here’s his tribute video as well as a few more cuts on creating and selling Wall portraits from Ken and from what he taught me in those years. There was only one and at least, we have videos like this to remind us.

Gavin Seim

Another gold clip from ken I found a few years back on raising the quality of our work.
A small history of Photography documentary Ken and I made for my Photo Perfect Master Class.
An early video I made about how I implemented Wall Portrait in my own studio.

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About the Author

Glad you're here.

I'm from WA State USA and started studying photography in 97. I started work as a pro (using that word loosely because I sucked) using film at age 16. I learned fast but was not as easy to find training then. Sometimes I beat my head against the wall until I figured stuff out.

As digital dawned I went all in and got to study with masters like Ken Whitmire. In 09 I founded the Pro Photo Show podcast. I started promoting tone-focused editing. When Lightroom arrived, I started developing tools to make editing and workflow better.

20 years of study and photography around the country earned me a Master of Photography (M.Photog) from PPA. I got to see my workshops and tools featured in publications across the industry. Once I even won the prestigious HotOne award for my "EXposed" light and tone workshop.

Wanting something calmer, I moved to Mexico in 2017. It's a land of magical light. I'm here now exploring light and trying to master my weak areas. I make videos of that for my Youtube channel, sharing what I learn. I hope you'll stick around and be part of Light Hunters Tribe... Gavin

Gavin Seim