Mentor Sessions Archive

3 signs that you are actually running a healthy, professional business

Hi friends, can you believe that school is already back in session and we are headed into fall? As we move into a new month and a new season, I have a lot to share with you so I’m going to (try to) be brief here and give you some VERY challenging things to consider. I’m going to warn you in advance though, what I have to say might insult or offend you; two things that I would absolutely HATE to do. So why am I going to say them anyway? Because I love you and I genuinely want to see you managing a business that is healthy and thriving. So here’s the truth.  The truth that I wish I could go back and tell myself 8 years ago when I was two years into owning my own business as a “professional” photographer.

Amy Ellid Photography

Here are three signs that you are actually running a healthy professional business:

1.  A professional business pays its owner a salary.  No more of this, “I sometimes let myself buy things out of my business account. That’s paying myself, right?”  Not paying yourself a consistent set salary (regardless of the size of that salary) is a sign that you are not taking yourself or your business seriously OR that you do not have a healthy grasp on your business finances. This rule still applies for businesses with fluctuating monthly revenue…and thats just about all of us. You are not the exception. Guys, it took me 8 years to put on my big-girl-business-pants and start paying myself a set salary every month. Its game changing on many levels.

2. A professional business has completely separate bank accounts and credit/debit cards. Work related purchases only go in and out of your work bank account.  Every expense is clearly tracked and accounted for. Period.

3. A professional business is able to operate debt free. Now before you throw a shoe at me,  I do realize that there are a lot of industries that carry debt as the norm, but I am going to go out on a limb here and say that your business probably does not have to be one of them. If you find that accumulating business debt is the norm for you it should be a giant red flag that you are trying to grow faster (or act larger) then your business can actually sustain. Slow and steady wins the race.  Make the money, then make that next investment.  Before you assume that you have to go into debt to grow your business stop and answer this question, “Is there another alternative?”  Chances are there is another alternative we just don’t like it because it often requires more time, patience or work.  What do Michael Kors, Chipotle, Whole Foods and Coach all have in common?  They are all companies on the S&P 500 that are completely debt free. #winning

The year is more than halfway over and I think that is great time to evaluate things. Are you committed to running a healthy business or are you nurturing an expensive hobby? Both are okay but you do have to choose which one you want to be. Pick just one of these steps and make this the year that you start to take yourself and your business seriously.

Shoot me a reply and let me know which one YOU are committing to the rest of this year and I will be cheering you on!!

– Shay

**This post was originally part of the SC Insiders monthly newsletter. If you want to receive more posts like this and free monthly images directly to your inbox, subscribe to the newsletter today!**

LIVE Styling & Product Photography Mentor Class

What many of you don’t know is that I spent 8 years as a wedding and portrait photographer doing good work but struggling to create something authentic and lacking any creative fuel. I loved owning a business and photography was just the fill in the blank. Never in my wildest dreams could have imagined I would be doing what I do today. Honestly, I had no idea it was even in me. What I have found along the way is that it is hard to find good training in commercial photography from both a business and creative perspective. On March 31 I will share what I’ve learned with a limited 15 seat online mentor group. Over half of the seats are already taken. Find out more and grab your spot here!

Confessions of an ugly website.

I remember how frustrating it was to be in the early stages of my business, wanting to set myself apart but only able to afford to work with website templates and prefabricated “themes”…none of which really seemed to capture my style.  Would you laugh if I told you that my very first website was completely BROWN….like dark, nasty, BROWN! Seriously! Not that I really knew what my style was back then, but I knew for sure that what I had at my disposal was NOT IT.  Oh, if only there had been a Stockshop back then! One of the most fun and amazing things that I have gotten to see since opening up the SC Stockshop is how a few gorgeously styled and carefully selected images can literally TRANSFORM a brand starting with the home page of a website. I get to see this exciting transformation all the time with my custom clients. We put so much time and effort into planning stunning, well branded, hero images that connected with their specific ideal client, but it truly amazes me the impact that even the images that I create for the stock can have on a brand.  One little example that a SC Stockshop client sent me the other day is from Pretty Darn Cute Design who uses one of our gorgeous styled desktops to show of her custom site designs and WordPress themes.

Pretty Darn Cute


But print and web designers aren’t the only ones showing love to the Stockshop!  One of our biggest fans is none other then one of Texas’ most sought after senior portrait photographers Amanda Halloway!  Amanda is actually a custom client of mine as well and let me just tell you, we have BIG, FABULOUS things planned for when I fly out to Texas later this summer for her 3 day shoot! Gah!!  In the mean time, my newest styled desktop theme was not in the shop for an hour before Amanda snatched it up to show off her gorgeous Statement Cards.  I’m not gonna lie Amanda, this theme looks like it was made for you.  Ya’ll need to go take a look at the INCREDIBLE brand that this girl has created. I mean, STUNNING! Thanks for letting me be a small part of it!

2013 Shay Cochrane


And with that I am so very excited to launch the newest addition to the shop!  I’m telling you, this one has a piece of my heart for sure!  Bold black and white patterns, graphic prints, mixed metals, wood elements, succulents, polka dots, calla lilies and even some oh-so-current floral pattern. Seriously, does it get any better!! I wanted this series to be a bit more modern but without loosing its feminine charm.

2013 Shay CochraneThis theme has a few different flat desktop styling variations, two that are more intricate and one that is more simplified  and with a bit more negative space.  I just LOVE so many of the details pulled into this series but among my favorites have to be the hanger shaped paperclips and the mini wooden bowl…and the black leather tassel keychain…and the geometric glass terrarium…

2014 Shay Cochrane


Of course, I had to create a styled computer desktop to accompany this series. Those Callas just steal the show don’t they!?

2013 Shay Cochrane 2014 Shay Cochrane

And can we talk about the pink tipped matches!?  These are from BelloPop Designs a favorite Etsy shop of mine!!

2014 Shay Cochrane

Of course the series would not be complete without something for my print designers!  I scaled this styling way down and kept it very bright and clean and modern.  And that lighting! Gah!!


The “big sister” of the three flat desktop styling gives you plenty to feast your eyes on.  A  favorite element of mine is the tipped lightbulb glass container with the gold paperclips falling out…but the black and white graphic passport cover is pretty darn fun as well.  You can find all of these styled stock images in the shop for purchase individually but also as a complete #BrandBuilderSet designed to give your site and brand a stunning and cohesive look through the use of the full collection of images.  I genuinely hope that you love it as much as I do!

2014 Shay Cochrane

Here’s to doing business beautifully friends!!

P.S There is currently ONE seat left at the styling and product photography live online mentor session Tuesday May 27th! If you have ever considered product photography this is your place to start!  Once this mentor session is full you will be able to join a waiting list for the next one!  Find out more here!



Mentor Session: Tiffany


One of my absolute favorite parts of my job is the opportunity to do mentor sessions! During one-on-one mentor sessions I get the chance to sit face to face and provide training specifically tailored to that photographer’s business and skill needs and I gain a new friend in the process!  One of my most recent mentor sessions was with Tiffany!  Tiffany is in the very early stages of building a photography business and is going about it the right way…baby step by baby step.   So may photographers rush to put up a website and order business cards when they really still need to be developing their skill and business plan before marketing themselves as a “professional.”  Tiffany came with a solid foundation in the technical aspect of photography and with an excitement to learn that just makes my heart so happy!

Tiffany wanted to learn how to shoot with more confidence in Manual mode and get more consistent results without spending lots of time fixing images after the fact.  She came away with a better eye for the creatively correct exposure of an image, how to get that correct exposure more consistently and how to make her images “pop” right out of the camera! By the end of our session she was getting images that were gorgeous right out of camera like the one above and had developed her eye for choosing the right lighting and location.  In her own words…

“My first mentoring session was an amazing eye opening experience.  You are very personable with a hands on approach teaching style.  I can’t believe that after one session, my skills have already improved.  Hooray!  You challenged me and for that I thank you.  The strong foundation skills that you provided me with today will be invaluable for the future.  I can’t wait till my next one-on-one mentoring session!  -Tiffany”

YAY! This just makes me so happy!  Tiffany, I cannot wait to see your business grow in the coming year and I am just blessed to be able to be a part of it!





Doing an in-office-chair happy dance!

Ya’ll have NO idea how excited I am to be making these two awesome announcements today!!!  God is good and these two little blessings are just the cherry on top.  So, first of all, by now you all have heard me talk about the Business and Branding Essential’s workshop coming up on March 2nd.  Ashlee and I have been finalizing logistics and content and let me just tell you, I am SO excited about this workshop.  It is going to change lives and businesses. For real ya’ll. haha.  Where was this workshop when I started my business!? Anyway, if we weren’t excited enough already this has just put it over the top!  We are beyond excited (have I mentioned that we are excited) to share with you that we have teamed up with Blue Lane Studios to host the upcoming workshop in their INCREDIBLE studio space here in Tampa!!! Shem and Carolina are fabulous wedding and portrait photographers who also started Room 3307 possibly the best boudoir photography studio in Tampa (hence the bed in their studio – or is that for napping? I’m not so sure…).

We can’t wait to use this beautiful space for the Essentials workshop in just 11 days!  There are still a few seats available!  Get yours here!

And if that news wasn’t amazing enough…we have added a special guest speaker to the workshop!!!!  Mariana Mosli of the ridiculously amazing Kismis Ink Photography is going to be speaking on how to capitalize on social media in our businesses!  This, coming from someone who in just a few short years has over 6,000+ “likes” on her company Facebook page!  The only thing that surpasses the quality of her amazing work is the quality of just getting to work with her!!  Five minutes and you will be in love with Mariana! We can’t wait to learn from you Mariana!

In her own words…Mariana is a Tampa-based international wedding photographer whose guilty pleasures include Instagram, social media, and traveling the world. Her favorite perks of being a photographer are making new friends, documenting happy beginnings, and inspiring others. She loves learning something new every day, whether it be the best lighting technique or the latest nail art trend. With a camera in one hand and an iPhone in the other, she’s ready to take on her third year in the industry along with her tech savvy husband, Khaled.

If you are not already registered for the workshop there are a few seats left!!  If you are on the fence and just not sure if this will benefit your business, take the plunge!!! The only thing you will regret is that this workshop wasn’t around sooner! Grab one of the last few seats here.  And don’t forget to register for the 3rd part in our 4 part FREE webinar series “Business with Heart!”  Tomorrow we will tackle branding!  You can listen to the first two and register for the third one here!

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