Mentor Sessions Archive

Passion + Purpose = Heart

Yesterday Ashlee and I did our second webinar in the Business with Heart series and once again it was SO incredible to see how much support and enthusiasm it received.  The Business with Heart webinar series is our first ever and is absolutely free. It was developed for photographers and other creative entrepreneurs and there is such an amazing mix of women from all over the US in all kinds small businesses represented in our awesome group of attendees.  I wanted to share with you the recording from yesterday’s session (at the bottom).

We believe that a Business with Heart is defined by the presence of two things 1) it is founded upon a set of passions that is unique to you and is not a separate entity but an extension of who you are as a person. 2) It is a business with a very clear personal mission out of which all decisions both creative and logistical are made. This webinar presses into those two area, self discovery and developing a clarified mission!

It’s not too late to register for the last two webinars in the series!  To listen to the recording to the week 1 webinar and to register for the remaining webinars in the series visit the webinar page on the Essentials workshop site!

Also, we are two weeks out from the Business and Branding Essentials workshop on March 2 here in Tampa and there are a few seats left.  If you listen through the end of the webinar we have a special announcement for you relating to the upcoming workshop that you won’t want to miss!!! YAY!

And if you are enjoying this webinar please share it and spread the love!

That was the day…

Ashlee and I were SO blessed by the amazing 70+ women who joined us for the Business with Heart free webinar series today.  In my mind, I had planned to spend the hour before the workshop clearing my head, getting mentally organized  and stepping with clarity into the content that we had put so much thought and prayer into.   The reality, of course , was that with two sick kids in need of naps, no babysitter and a morning full of busy mothering, I entered the webinar a bit frazzled,  in need of my work-from-home-husband  to pinch hit for me with the kids, and I’m pretty sure I smelled like Vera’s last diaper had somehow “left its mark” on my shirt. True story.

But Ashlee said it best…we have been preparing for this webinar series, and the Essential’s Workshop, our whole lives…we just didn’t realize it.  This series and the corresponding workshop are just the outpouring of a million conversations had, hundreds of (often tearful) phone calls exchanged and the constant challenging each other to live with intention in life and in business over the past 8 years of our friendship.  Today we talked about priorities and about what is at the heart of each of those priorities and where our business fits in to all of that. We talked about where our hearts are at and some of the challenges that we face as moms, business owners and creatives.  We talked about the urgent vs. the important and about intentionally pressing into the important in our lives. We talked about how our priorities affect the way we run our businesses and hopefully in the midst of all of that we encouraged and challenged someone.  This was one of my favorite quotes from today…”That was the day she made herself the promise to live more from intention and less from habit.” I know myself and if I don’t have an intentional plan for my days, my weeks, my year and my business then I spend a whole lot of time being busy and frustrated and feeling like I am never really getting ahead. Maybe you know what that feels like.

I’m so excited to see where this webinar series leads.  I hope that you will join us next week and for the rest of the 4 week free webinar series. Let’s make this the day that we start to live (and work!) more from intention and less from habit!

*If you missed today’s webinar and are interested in listening in, a recording of it will be posted here within the next few days.



Do Business Better: Part 2 – Identity Crisis

Hello there friends! I am assuming that you are reading this because you either 1) have a photography business or 2) are secretly (or not so secretly) hoping to start one 3) you are a personal friend of mine and feel like you for some reason have to read all my blog posts. haha. I’m sorry if you fall into that last category.  You are officially free from that expectation!! If, however,  you are one of the first two groups of people, and you don’t want to be among the 85% whose businesses close up shop within the first 3 years, then start HERE before you read this second post in my three part series.

Everyone with me? Great.  If you have got the talent and have put in the time to invest in your skill early on through practice and lots of learning then that brings me to the second reason that photography businesses fail – and how to make sure yours doesn’t…

Identity Crisis

Google “Photographers in Tampa, FL”.  No really.  Ok, if you live somewhere else you can insert your own city.  My point? Literally 1,320,000 result were found for my search.  Do you see the problem? So do you want to just be the cheapest and that’s why they hire you or do you want to STAND OUT from the crowd and actually have a thriving business that you LOVE doing? I am going to be BRUTALLY honest in this post and I am not trying to pick on any specific person’s branding or site.  I have BEEN THERE myself. I actually still have a long way to go in the process. But in all honestly, I get to see a lot of upcoming photographer’s sites and they all tend to look so much the same that I can hardly remember them. It is not the lack of talent that is keeping these businesses from being successful,  it is that they are just doing what they see everyone else doing instead of leveraging THEIR unique assets and intentionally creating a brand that emotionally connects with THEIR ideal client.  Part of why I know this is because this has been me for many years!  In order to break out of this we have to be willing to take an honest assessment of the situation.  By now you have likely already invested hundreds, if not thousands of dollars into your business.  It’s game time.  The pressure is on to make it work. This is where you either sink or swim and in order to swim you have to be willing to do the dirty work of self assessment and find and use the resources you need to make this business of yours succeed. Otherwise, you might as well sell your gear and just be happy to take decent pictures of your kids from here on out. The market is SO oversaturated that what we’re talking about here can make or break you. Let me spare you from wasting your time and money.

Lack of a true knowledge of yourself as an artist and your brand as an extension of who you are will result in 1) closing up shop for lack of business or 2) burnout from doing work that you don’t love.  Every talented photographer out there who is really making it “big” has come to this conclusion and CHANGED their trajectory because of it.

So what are the signs of identity crisis? You may be guilty if…

– You have too much mediocre work on your site and your best work is buried somewhere amidst all of that. You are not even sure what your “best work” is because you are just trying to put a little bit of everything that you think will please a potential client.
– You offer every category of work (children, weddings, babies, dogs, Bar Mitzvas, engagements…you get the idea.) You do this out of fear of losing a potential client.

– Either you or a friend designed your logo
– Either you or a friend designed your website
– You have a cheesy song that plays when someone goes to your site (and you did this because other photographers seem to do it)
– You have an “About me” section that is full of cheesy catch phrases like “my passion is to capture your memories” and “I believe in capturing life’s little moments” along with a list of some of your “credentials.”
– You do not even have a picture of yourself on your site or if you do, it is plain-Jane and does not reflect you or your personality.
– You picked your session packages based on what you saw other photographers offering.
– You either pulled your rates out of nowhere (made them up) or you based them on what another photographer is charging.
– You could not explain how your logo reflects who you are.

- You have never thought of who your “ideal client” is let alone branded yourself to connect with them.

- You have no idea what your “client experience” is.

- We can’t tell anything about who YOU are as a person by going to your website…what you like, dislike, are passionate about, your personal style, your sense of humor. Nothing.

If you are still reading and are not too mad or offended then please hear my heart in this.  Owning a successful photography business is HARD and you have to be willing to invest in the right things (not just more gear) if you really want to make it be profitable. you have to be willing to take the time to ask WHY.  Why is this work up on my site? Why is this my logo? Why is this the color of my website? WHY (specifically!) am I really doing photography in the first place.  I want to see this business WORK for you and not just work…but I want to see your business thrive!  I honestly do.  I want to see you have clarity about who you are as an artist, what it is that you really enjoy doing the most in life, and then see you connecting with and doing amazing work for clients who share your vision, who love you, and who hire you over and over again! There is something unique about YOU that will connect with your ideal client and enable you to have a flourishing business that bring you and others joy.  Do you believe me?

So if you are really in this for the long haul…If you really want to run a profitable business that brings you and others joy?  Here are just a few basic suggestions…

1) Start asking the WHY.  For every business and branding decision you make, take the time to ask “Why am I do this? Does it communicate who I really am? What do I hope to achieve?”

2) Study up. Learn all that you can about branding and business identity development. Lara Casey and Emily Ley of Making Brands Happen have some helpful advice on their blog. If you are in Florida then make it a point to come to the Business and Branding Essentials Workshop on March 2, 2013.  It will rock your world…if not change it. (Yes, that is a personal plug. Sorry. Not sorry.This workshop is that awesome!)

3) Work with a graphic designer who you can afford but who understands the process of unique brand development and will take the time to walk you through it.  If you cannot afford to hire a graphic designed maybe you can find one that would be willing to swap services with you!

3) Stop doing it all yourself unless you are really able to do it well (logo, web design, web graphics, etc).  If you want to have a business then you have to be willing (and able) to make the necessary investments and outsource the parts of your business that you are not good at (accounting, graphic design, etc)

4) Stop looking at other photographer’s sites and trying to mimic what they are doing!  Instead, identify brands that you love (J.Crew, Apple, Kate Spade) and try to pinpoint what they are doing that works so well and apply it to your industry.

5) Read this post…it will get you thinking.


I believe with 110% of my heart that there is something unique about you and your passions, your likes and dislike, your style, and that there are people out there who identify with those things and who can become some of your best and most loyal clients. Here is to asking the hard questions and doing business BETTER in 2013!


Do Business BETTER: Why photography businesses fail – PART 1

Why Photography Businesses Fail

I saw a statistic recently that said that in the first year of business, 60% of photographers give up their business and that of that remaining 40%, another 25% fail within the 2nd year.  The ones that make it are the remaining 15% who endure through the third year.  Just fifteen percent!! Now, I don’t know for sure how accurate these stats are but I do know from experience that it is hard to build and maintain a healthy,thriving, PROFITABLE photography business and a simple google search of local wedding or portrait photographers will reveal that there are A LOT of people out there trying to make it work.  Personally, I know dozens of talented photographers who feel like they are ready to throw in the towel and close up shop.  I personally believe that if photography is your passion and if you happen to also be good at it then you can have a thriving business – you just need the right tools. For that reason, I want the take the next few posts to talk about 3 reasons a photography business might not make it past that 3rd year of business.

1. Lack of talent.

Ok, this may seem like the obvious one but we have to start here.  The digital age has made it possible (and relatively inexpensive) for almost anyone to try their hand at photography and get a decent result.  The camera does the thinking for you (hello auto mode) and if you take enough shots (hello 12GB card) you are bound to wind up with something good right?!  The truth is that the art of photography – truly good photography – is very complex and just like any other art form, it takes time and practice to produce a good end result.  True photographic talent requires both technical proficiency (you cannot let your camera do the thinking), and super-power-esk aesthetic awareness, and even these are just the beginning of what it takes to make a good photograph.

You know all this.  So how does it affect you?  If you are serious about wanting to pursue photography as a profession then you have to begin with two things 1) the willingness to put in the time and effort to grow in your skill level 2) the humility to ask for help and willingness to learn.

a) Do the dirty work | It is easy to buy the gear but gear does not a good photographer make.  Rather than invest in more gear, make the investment in learning your craft.  Learn to use every knob and dial on your camera. Read books. Study good photography. Attend workshops by talented photographers that you admire. Shoot everything and in doing so practice, practice, practice until your fingers cramps up and you wake up with your hands stuck in some awkward zombie-like claw position.  It is not the easy way, but it is the only way. You have to be willing to put forth the effort…for free.  You have to want it bad enough to try and fail and try again.

b) Have the humility to ask for help | Many photographers that I talk to who are just starting out get frustrated because they know that there is something wrong with their images but they just don’t know what it is or how to fix it.  At the same time, if you start marketing yourself as a “professional” too early you mentally take yourself out of that learning posture and for one reason or another end up just trying to figure things out on your own while trying to convince the outside world that you know what you are doing.  This is exhausting and leads to late nights spent sitting in front of a glowing screen, your eyes about to fall out of your head downloading “presets” in the hopes that they will magically fix your images or scouring YouTube for a helpful explanation of White Balance explained essentially in Greek by an overweight bearded man in a khaki film-holding vest.  Back away from your computer.  Go get some rest and in the morning look up the phone number of 5 really talented photographers in your area and CALL them. Don’t e-mail them.  They are busy editing and answering e-mail from their paying clients. Call them. Offer to take them out for coffee or bring cookies to their office in exchange for letting you pick their brain.  Maybe only one of those photographers will actually call you back but all it takes is one great mentorship relationship to help to lay a solid foundation underneath your business. (Thank you Casey Templeton) Look for someone willing to help.  Willing to take even just a few minutes to look over some of your images.  Willing to let you come along on a shoot and mist them with water and fan them with palm fronds if they will just explain to you what that blinking red light is in your viewfinder.  There are photographers out there who are happy to help.  I am one of them. Take me out for coffee and the contents of my brain are yours. Just be humble enough to ask for help, to ask questions, to ask again because you didn’t understand the answer the first 3 times. Just be willing to ask and learn and then pass that kind of kindness on when you are a big shot photographer sipping Romane Conti in the french riviera while “working” a destination wedding. Just don’t forget to send a bottle my way;)

Don’t forget about the exciting things going on this week! Comment below for the chance to win a free seat to the Beginner-Hobbyist workshop in Tampa, FL on February 2nd, hop on over to the Essentials workshop facebook page and help spread the word about our upcoming March 2nd Business and Branding Essentials workshop for the chance to win a $30 anthropologie giftcard AND register for your Business and Branding Essentials workshop seat during the month of January and get $50 off!! Phew! Here’s to growing your photography business this year!








BIG news!

“Make today the day that you start taking yourself and your business seriously.

Make today the day that your business goes from surviving to thriving.

Make today the day that you sort through the noise and identify your true passions and strengths and lay the foundation for a new business identity that builds off of those essential concepts!

The Essentials workshop is for photographers who are serious about their business but are unsure about how to take it to the next level.  It is for photographers who feel “stuck” and are losing the passion and direction to do what they love.  It is for the photographer with big dreams for her little business but who is lacking the business savvy to make her business soar!

The Essentials workshop has two main goals. First, it is designed to help you to ask yourself the right questions to identify your passions, strengths and goals as they relate to your unique business and to create a clear and effective branding concept that represents you!  Second, it will equip you with essential business tools to hit the ground running with that new clarified brand, to get the clients of your dreams, to get back to doing what makes your heart sing as the owner of a business that is flourishing!

Life is too short not to be doing exactly what you love. Time is too precious to keep running a business that is just surviving instead of thriving. MAKE TODAY THE DAY…

Most of you guys have heard me rave about my talented graphic designer friend Ashlee Proffitt.  She has been doing most of my business related design for almost as long as I have been a business (she even designed my first logo over 7 years ago! haha). For years now, we have talked about how fun it would be to combine our expertise and do a workshop together.  Up until this point though it was just one of those distant ideas that needed lots of pieces to fall into place before it was even a possibility.  Well, finally God has brought us both to a place in our business where the workshop made perfect sense and the pieces have just fallen together.  I don’t think anyone is as excited about the Essentials workshop as we have been during our meetings to hash out what it will cover, who it help and the why’s and hows of making it happen.  We both believe in this workshop 150% and how it will encourage, propel, and revolutionize the businesses of the attendees.  Where was this workshop when I started 7 yrs ago!??

I’m sad to say that photographers (including myself for many years) are notoriously bad business owners and do-it-ourselfers. We don’t exactly know how to manage our profits and losses, determine worthwhile investments, or set our prices and packaging and so we make it up as we go.  We offer too much variety, dilute our brand, purchase lots of gear, go into debt, generally don’t know what to charge, lack confidence and knowledge, and have our business priorities in the wrong place!  In addition to that we tend to try to do all of branding and graphic design ourselves with our modest understanding of photoshop. GUILTY.  What it so often leads to is burnout, frustration, debt and a business that is “stuck.”  Eventually we have invested money without a profitable return because we have the creative drive but lack the business savvy, clarified brand, and effective business model to really be successful and then we settle for less than business success by saying that it doesn’t matter how much we make because we are artists doing what we love.  Ok, I know this doesn’t apply to everyone, but it applies to SO many of the photographers that I hear from, mentor and have meet and taught at previous workshops.  All of that has inspired the creation of this workshop and I could not be more proud and excited about how game changing this workshop will be in the lives of the attendees.  I hope that YOU will be one of them!

Twitter Pinterest Instagram Contact