How to get permission to show client photos, even the risqué ones


How I get permission to use client photosPIN When I read Facebook boudoir group posts, I often see photographers puzzled about how to get more real client work on their websites. I used to be that person, until the end of last year when I completely changed how I ask clients to use their photos. It comes down to planting the seed, using the right words, putting her in control, and assuming that you will be able to use some photos from every client boudoir shoot.

Plant the seed

When my client is starting hair and makeup, my makeup artist asks if we can do a before photo. Most clients say yes. I tell them at that point that I have every client sign a permission slip that tells me whether I have permission to show some or all of their photos in my portfolio at their ordering appointment.

Use the right words

I used to call this a Model Release, and the first paragraph included the words “allow to use.” Now, if I just paid beaucoup bucks for a photo session, and I am asked to allow my photographer to use my photos to market her services, I might feel a little uncomfortable. Then I changed the name of my form to be Permission to Show Photos, and the first paragraph says, “give permission to show photos in my portfolio.” All of a sudden the number of clients giving me the OK to show at least some of the photos jumped through the roof. Note the words:

  • Permission (not allow)
  • Show (not use)
  • Portfolio (not marketing)

Assume you’ll get a yes

I used to assume I would not get permission to show any clients’ photos in my portfolio. And, of course, that’s what happened. My form reflected it. I had too many choices:

  1. No photos
  2. Only in studio samples
  3. Studio samples and online
  4. Only anonymous photos
  5. All photos

This is the order I presented the options. So, guess what response I received most? No photos. I decided to experiment with that list, and I wound up here:

  1. All photos
  2. All photos except the ones marked out on the attached contact sheet
  3. No photos

By giving two positive responses, I now have a 66 percent chance of getting a yes. boudoir-photos-weight-loss-lynnclark-8adbPIN

Put her in charge

When I was assuming I’d get a no, I just had clients sign a form. Then, I decided to select about a dozen images, print them in a contact sheet and ask for a release on those photos. Usually, they were anonymous. The problem I ran into was clients were releasing the exact same photos. So, I never updated my boudoir portfolio. Who wants different women in the same 5 poses on their websites?

Then, I decided to print out a contact sheet showing every single photo I presented in her gallery—somewhere between 45 and 60 images. I reminded her that I ask every client to note whether I have permission to use their photos. I gave her the three choices: All, these or none. I instructed her to go through the contact sheet and mark out any photos she would not like me to show.

And then I left the room to go print her sales receipt. That alone increased my percentage of clients giving permission to about half. Then, I changed the wording and title on the form and the permission to use some, if not all, photos skyrocketed.

Give her an out

The last thing I tell a client before I leave the room is that I absolutely understand that these are private, intimate photos, and that she is under no obligation to allow me to show any of them. I assure her that I will never identify her by name (I use Ms. First Initial).  Then I tell her that she may revoke her permission at any time for any or all photos by simply emailing me. I do add the caveat that once something is online, I can take it off my site but that’s as far as I can go, and if I’ve used her photos in a studio sample I’ll phase it out as soon as possible.

When I come back to her, it’s likely that she’s given permission to allow me to use many if not all of her images. Now, my problem is sorting through and again, actually updating my portfolio and blogging those images.

Ask every client

I used to pick and choose which clients I asked. When I started asking everyone, of course the number of yeses I received went up, as it’s a matter of numbers. But I was most surprised by the types of clients who were saying yes.

Making this part of my standard client workflow also took all the fear out of asking. It’s just something I do. That’s my attitude when I ask.

Thank her

When I get permission to show one or all images, I thank her in person. I thank her in a Facebook post if I make one. I thank her in the blog post (while reiterating that I only show photos if I have the client’s permission.) A little thank you goes a long way. How do you ask clients for permission to include their photos in your portfolio? What has worked? What has failed? Let us know in the comments. lingerie-photography-denver-lynnclark-8ae2PIN


Lynn Clark

Lynn Clark is co-founder of The Business of Boudoir. She’s a boudoir and portrait photographer in Denver, Colo. with a mission to help every woman bare her beauty … and leave with an amazing photo of her own ass (because let’s be honest, we ALL want an amazing photo of our own asses.) She brings 25 years of communications background in writing, websites, public relations and strategy to The Business of Boudoir. She’s also available for 1 on 1 website evaluation, content creation and editing.


‘Tis the season for Awesome

I don’t care about the gifts under the tree. I’m looking forward to see what awesome new projects and ideas that come to me when I take time to reflect and celebrate the year. You too may find yourself celebrating or reflecting, or both. Hello 2016 but first a quick rundown on 2015.

All-Access Pass with CCMTL

The idea of creating CCMTL as a community of artists, photographers, and creative entrepreneurs came in those moments of reflection a couple of years ago. I love the holiday’s for the break from work and the quiet moments to reflect.

What a year 2015 has been. At each monthly Brunch we filled the house with those who wanted to meet leaders in the industry, from photographers of every stripe, to brand specialists, to financial wizards. These intimate and friendly brunches gave people up-close-and-personal access to professionals working in the creative fields.

Imagine if you wanted to have coffee with a busy photographer, or a marketer and started making cold calls to set it up. Would you have time to do all those calls? Would you know what to say to make it interesting for them? Would they give you hours of their time? You could do all that work or you could just follow our facebook page events or listings on the blog, then show up. Easy peasy.

We Made it Work, Thank You.

A very big thanks to you who showed up, who participated, who make our community bursting with creative energy. So many talented people with so many great ideas, dreams and aspirations. Together we can go further than each can alone. This is the basis behind Creative Collisions MTL.

We are photographers, jewelry designers, travelers, videographers, graphic designers- but also more than that. We are parents, lovers, dreamers, adventurers.


We believe we deserve to pursue activities that bring us joy, inspiration and well deserved financial rewards along with that.

Our biggest challenge is taking our talents and abilities and monetizing them into viable products or services. School doesn’t teach us HOW to do this. At most you may have taken a class or workshop that quickly covered the elements of a business plan, but then what?! How do we go from today to the sparkly future we want? We start today, we seek out like minded people to inspire us to “Go for it”. That’s why you are here, aren’t you.

See the Forest and know where to go

Over the last couple of years, topics that comes up again and again, are:

  • How do I break-in to desired job
  • How to organize my day from distractions
  • How do I build a habit of a creative practice
  • Am I pricing my work competitively
  • Where can I find clients that pay
  • How to promote myself and where
  • How to show up on social media
  • Do I have what it takes to create a business
  • …the list continues.

Pick the thing that’s the most troubling for you and chances are it’s the same for many people in the same boat as you. Figuring out how to navigate the path toward creating your own career on your own terms takes the right mindset and the tools and strategies that work. It’s not enough to be a creative genius if nobody knows about you.

Has this happened to you? You watch too much CreativeLive and ignore your creative work. You listen to webinar after webinar on marketing, client referrals, branding, yada, yada, yada. and are left with a bunch of notes that don’t really help you but try to sell you their products. I know how it feels; it’s like you are lost in the trees. Too much piecemeal information and not enough cohesion.

There is no shortage of information in this internet age. Yet without a way to make sense of it all that is tailored specific to your goals it’s easy to feel lost. “You can’t see the forest for the trees”.

Getting to the NuB

You know what a nub is? A nub, defined as the essence, the core of something. Getting to it!

When you don’t finish a project, or don’t follow-through on a warm lead or hear yourself saying the Coulda-Woulda-Shoulda ( I could have, I would have, I should have), then that means there is something holding you back. If you can figure out the nub of THAT, you can achieve anything.

Here’s your chance to get to the nub of it. Stop being held back by muddled thinking, unclear goals, time sucking tasks and find ways to leverage your talents, grow your client base and earn more money.

Start the new year with intention, with passion and purpose.

And to help with that, CCMTL is forming Creative NuB’s. Rhymes with hub, a focus of activity from which ‘good’ things revolve. It’s a small group that meets at regular intervals to talk about their challenges and successes in their art and business. The groups are formed in a way to encourage synergy based on your career stage, your life skills or even enthusiasm. In joining a NuB you will find accountability partners, solutions you may not have thought of and non-judgemental ears to bounce-off  your ideas. The creation of these NuB’s further reinforces that together we can go further than each can alone. 

Want to get in on the action? Click on the button below to take you to the sign up sheet.

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Yes, get me started

If you signed-up,thank you! Now we get to work to forming groups to get the best synergy. We will also send you more information on how it works, the timelines, and all the details of what you can expect so you can be sure this will benefit you.

If you are not quite sure, please sign-up anyway and you’ll get a personal call or visit to go over all the details. You are not committed by just signing up. Go for it!


Have a wonderful happy holiday with your friends and family.  Many joyous celebrations and perhaps a moment of reflection on where you are right now and how 2016 can be even more amazing. Let’s do it together.








From now on everything is different – Creating steps toward your new direction

Brunch IMG_2504It was a sunny Fall morning in Montreal. Entering the equally sunny resto for our monthly brunch we greeted each other with friendly eyes and in typical Quebec fashion, the double cheek kiss. Today I want to hear about how Alex Tran went from being a biologist studying electric fish in Panama to photographing the range of human personalities with his portraits and wedding business. It’s what we all wonder, how to dive-in to photography full time.

The café lattés, the elegant eggs and fruits that graced our plates only enhanced the experience, the candid and real conversations that took place. Coming to the monthly brunches offers the chance to have a tête-a-tête, a one-on-one up close and personal with a person who is an example of how to create your own success. Many times many people say that in creative fields, and especially photography, today, it is difficult to earn a living. I would say that may be true if you are assuming the conditions exist as they did 20 years ago. Times have changed. From now on everything is different.

Each of us has our own creative journey.  Today you may still be working at that JOB while squeezing in your passions around your busy life, wondering when and how to shed the corporate shackles to do what you were meant to do.

It starts with one action, a one degree change today. You cannot change your destination overnight but you can change your direction overnight.  This one small degree of movement or action if harnessed and focused can lead to dreams realized.

Here are some of those small degrees of action that you can take today to move you toward your destination. As small as it may seem, each step you take changes your direction. Make it one that truly fulfills you.

Alex’s list for making a move:

1. Listen to Podcasts:

 I just love the medium of podcasts because I multi-task like crazy. I learned basic SEO, client interactions and customer service, basic business practices. Check out:

2. Find your system to Get Things Done:

All those ideas, administrative tasks, maintenance tasks, unfinished projects, new projects, marketing, networking, prospecting, producing work and so-on, it’s no wonder it feels like we can never get anything done. I progressed by having a clear direction and system. I like  the “Getting Things Done” philosophy.  What I found works for me is:

  • Get Things Done system starts from bottom up in organizing your tasks.
  • Keeping track of all client inquiries (date, type of assignment, etc.)
  • Getting to zero in my email inbox every day.

3. Start now – Things I wish I started Earlier:

  • Ask for client testimonials. It’s a win-win. If it’s a good testimonial, it’ll help in attracting more clients. If it’s neutral or if they refuse to write you one, this is your opportunity to ask why, which serves as important feedback for you to improve upon. Here’s a link that shows how you can ask for great testimonials.
  • My Blog. I did start it early, but I was running across different platforms and only settled with WordPress a few years ago. Between two otherwise equal websites, Google will rank you higher if you’ve been around longer, if you post frequently and just recently (April 2015) if your site is mobile friendly. So start now even if you feel you’re not good at it.
  • Keep in touch with past clients. After assignments, I’d mentally “check them off”, be happy it’s done and move on. Keep in touch! Ask them how they’re doing. Ask about their projects. You never know when they’ll be having a conversation with someone who mentions they need a photographer. If you maintain a friendly relationship with them after the shoot they’ll be much more likely to refer you to others. This leads me to my next point.
  • Thank everyone who referred you. This might sound obvious, but thank everyone who mentions that you’re a photographer to someone else, regardless of whether it leads to a job or not. Word-of-mouth referrals are super important in photography, and if you show real appreciation to those who made the effort of mentioning you to someone else, they will be more likely to do it in the future.
  • Ask people where they found you. Be specific about it, “I found you on Facebook” wouldn’t be enough for me. I’d want to know whether it was because I tagged a friend, or whether it was because they saw a specific blog post. Don’t just ask clients that book you, ask people who say no as well. You might find interesting patterns, like “People who contact me from my Instagram page are much less likely to book me than people who contact me after finding me on Google”.

4. Now it’s your turn:

Finally, I want to leave you with something actionable. I hate finishing a CreativeLive video, or reading a book, or reading a blog post, being super inspired, but not knowing what to do next.

Pick a date in your calendar right now in the next month or two. That’s the deadline that you have to replace your worst 5 photos in your portfolio. Do what you need to do to replace them with 5 better ones. Contact people/organizations you’ve been wanting to photograph, learn a new technique, read a book about posing. Write it in your calendar and stick to the date!

Thanks Alex for your inspiring ideas and actionable steps. It will set us on a new direction.

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We Are Starving For Boredom – and why you need it to get Creative

As the summer vacations draw to a close and the Fall’s back-to-work, back-to-school, mentality gains hold over all of us, I wonder how many people are approaching it refreshed, renewed and full of ideas. Isn’t that what summer vacation is all about? A bit of time off to relax, to re-create and juice up our batteries.

For those that work the daily grind, maybe you couldn’t take a summer break because they laid-off half your team and you’re stuck working the extra load. Maybe your break didn’t really feel restful because you wanted to catch up on all those things in your life you meant to do weeks or months ago, which you now realize were much more work that you thought and it ate up all your free time for fun or enjoyment. You just feel cheated out of Me-time.

Ahhh, enjoyment, pleasures and life fully lived. Are we even aware of what this state of joy feels like? So much of our free time, and the time in between one thing to another, or even, at the same time while we are doing something else; we check emails, texts, tweets, posts, links, videos, news, weather, jokes……..yatta yatta yatta.

What is with the world that they must constantly check in with their networks social or otherwise? Similar to the empty calories of fast food which is starving the population of nutrition and delicious taste, so is our compulsion to avoid a moment of nothingness. It’s starving our creativity and creative flow.

Go ahead and try it. Try one day, one hour of not touching your phone while you go about your day; waiting at the bus stop, at the ATM machine, for your laté. Like a smoker, you may out of habit feel the need to touch the portal’s smooth surface.

But wait. Resist. And in the absence you will feel something. You will actually feel something emanating from within yourself.

You may look around in your surroundings. You will be observing the people, the place, the weather. You may notice things that you never would have seen. And in this seeing you start to think, take mental notes, cross-reference to other times or feelings. You become aware of yourself and what you want to do.

In this space, this do-nothing space, you start the process of creativity.

Found this digging through the archives. Blurr...Why resist boredom and fill it with texts, facebook and the like? What we equate with boredom is really stillness, that moment where we can hear ourselves.

Interestingly, Public Radio’s WNYC sponsored a “Bored and Brilliant” campaign earlier this year. They created a podcast and series of exercises to help people get off their phones and confront boredom. The challenge was accepted by thousands of people who wanted to go phone-free, disconnect, observe, and embrace boredom. What did they find? Not so surprising stuff — by filling up all the empty moments in our lives, we’ve been keeping ourselves from experiencing downtime.

Does that explain the exhaustion, the stress illnesses, and general lack of joy and happiness in our world?! Does that explain the sheep mentality, trending topics and the illusory belief that we are engaging in meaningful conversations?

Are we so afraid of a moment of stillness? A moment that we so desperately need in order to nurture and grow the creative sparks that flash for a brief moment, not likely to return.

That creativity you seek for your next great project, for your ongoing practice or for climbing that corporate ladder is there within you. It is there in the momentary stillness that you let yourself feel, get stirred-up by it and allow it’s light to shine outward.

Recognize how you may be starving yourself of boredom. And once you roll around in boredom for a time, you will be ready to jump in to the next fun project full of zeal and renewed energy.

By depriving yourself of a bit of boredom, you run the risk of constantly being on the treadmill, in the social sphere, work sphere and every other aspect of your life. It’s O.K to be bored, do nothing for a short time – in fact creativity is born from it.

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Brunch Series: Build your network for Photographers

Finally a sunny and not too cold morning, a group of us met at Midi 6 resto in Montreal to reconnect, share and gain insights into networking for photographers.  With special guest Jean-Francois Seguin we covered a lot of bases and got the inside scoop on the best tactics for networking as a photographer in the digital age.


The top 10 highlights:

  1. Enter Photography contests. You never know if you will win and the exposure helps to build your credibility. “If you win one contest, chances are you may win two or more” says Jean-Francois.
  2. Focus on the main industry contests such as Communication Arts or Applied Arts, it’s where the agencies, buyers, and art directors look for talent.
  3. Maybe it’s a quote from Woody Allan but Seguin stresses that “Showing up is 70% of success.” So keep at it.
  4. “There are two things that make a photographer successful;
    • you have good quality pictures, and
    • you are likeable and people want to work with you.
  5. Avoid working for free. At least cover your costs or travel time.
  6. Have a social media platform for your work and start now. When people mention your name the first thing they will do is look online to see your work. Have a website, facebook, instagram. “All platforms are equally important.” It’s like having multiple doors into a restaurant.
  7. Post on your sites regularly. People only know you through your website or facebook page and regular activity indicates that you are still in business.
  8. Ad agencies and art directors want to see your personal projects because commercial jobs look very similar and don’t show your style. Your personal projects may be the defining factor to get you that job.
  9. We’ll see in the next 5- 10 years the landscape of digital photography changing with more women and a break from traditional concepts of photography.
  10. Building your network and reputation takes time and you need to keep working on your connections and believe in yourself.

Thank you to Jean-Francois Seguin who generously offered his insights.

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Applied Arts Magazine

Communication Arts Magazine

How to survive in a diminishing industry….or is it just changing?

Is your dream to work in an area that is “unprofitable”, has “stiff competition” and very few opportunities over the next few years? If you believe what’s written about the career prospects of Photographers on Service Canada’s job futures website, your photographic aspirations may well remain at the hobbyist level. Being a hobbyist or stating ‘I just do it for fun’ is a roundabout way of saying ‘I make no money’.

If you are reading this, it’s because you want to be creative and express yourself, and you want to do more than take snapshots for birthday parties and vacation slideshows.

So, then what does it take to make a career? How does the “earning money” bit in the equation change things? When we start to think of how to monetize what we love, we have to then take different approach to it. A “let’s get down to business” approach. Some would say you’re getting serious about your work- though seriousness certainly implies no fun. Anyway you say it, what it really means is finding a group of people who will buy your creative work. And more importantly is how you define what is your creative work.

Where are the Photography jobs?

The prospects of finding a job as a photographer, with a steady paycheque are dwindling. Your only source of traditional employment will primarily come from positions vacated by photographers who retire or leave the occupation; and that’s assuming the employer will hire to replace them. The position as “staff photographer” that many media outlets once had has been consolidated into other jobs such as graphic designers, journalists and marketing staff.

Even if you found a job, think you can get promoted once in those jobs? Hardly. You may get a leg up if you leave to set up your own shop and get hired on contract as director of photography or working other larger projects that involve multimedia.

Sounds dismal. Worse yet, “it should be noted that the labour market status of graduates of the photography Attestation of College Studies (AEC) is even poorer than that of DEC and DEP graduates. Only a small minority of them find a job in their field, still less join this occupation.” the government site says.

Still photography is attracting more and more people. A number of schools offer programs and churn out dozens of graduates each year, not to mention the photo-enthusiasts and self-taught photographers. The marketplace is crowded. The traditional job of photographer is in a downward spiral.

If you want the security of a paying job, you may have to look at broader industries such as the art world as well as the realms of theatre, architecture and design. There is no guarantee the jobs are there, so you’ll just have to hit the pavement, make the calls and get yourself in front of people who can hire you.

Change everything.

What then sets a photographer apart?How do you ensure your success in the face of seemingly large odds? The answer is change everything and be part of the change.

The photographic medium has changed to be completely digital; the tools have advanced so that anyone can pickup the latest camera and get a decent shot; the internet has changed how we consume news, information and social communications, the nature of work has changed with much more part-time, contract and an on-demand labour force. Indeed, the only constant has been ongoing change.

3 key factors:

Consider these 3 key factors that you should have or strive for to ensure you stand out:

1) Persistence

Rather than an afterthought, persistence is the most important quality you can have. It’s the “keep going when the going gets tough” mentality. It’s finding another way when the path you’ve selected seems to have a road block. It’s in part believing in yourself and having strategies or something in place so that you don’t become discouraged and want to give up. Some people have plenty of tenacity, others need a trusted friend to give them the straight talk. Help keep your goals in front-and-centre focus by creating a vision board, a goal statement or wish list at your workstation at eye level. Looking at it every day, consciously or not, it will work it’s way into your head.

2) Setting yourself apart by the quality of your work

Always work at your best. Always work on something. Only by working on something will you continue to exercise your creative muscles and develop. It is much better to shoot bad pictures everyday than it is to try to shoot a masterpiece once a year. What you’ll find is all those bad pictures actually take you a step closer to the masterpiece. You can’t shortcut it here. Your best work is the work you are doing today. Your creativity and unique style will flourish by working on it daily and that in turn boosts the quality of your work.


3) Establishing solid contacts in the field.

How many people believe they have lots of contacts by the fact they have so many linkedIn connections or facebook friends? Maybe some do but I think the litmus test is whether you can show up on these ‘friends’ doorsteps and ask for help or their ideas. The social tools we have are a great connector, they are not a relationship builder. We are likely to help the people we know and trust. A relationship, even a professional one, requires some time, requires sharing of ourselves and shared experiences. It is not enough to ‘Like’ someone’s page. You won’t be setting yourself apart, you aren’t giving anything, aren’t sharing anything. The focus must be on building relationships.

Take it as an opportunity

When there is this much change going on simultaneously, it’s hard to know where to start. Start with yourself, with what you have now and what you can do, then add in resourcefulness. With no preset path, you are free to create your own job. Daunting as this may sound, it’s probably your best chance at a career using photography. Every person is unique, with unique skills, experience and history. Make these work for you. Figure out what is your unique offering and take it to the world.

The opportunities are out there for you to create the career you want. Figuring out how to get there, well that’s why you are reading this blog.

Don’t miss any posts on how to be creative and business minded, be sure to follow the blog using the links at the bottom of the page.


How a Belief outperforms a Plan every-time

This post was originally published in July 2013 in theCR8infinitum blog. I think it still holds true power. Believe!

pink eggs

The word Belief remained on my tongue as I read an article about marketing. The idea being, that in selling anything from ideas to products, you start not from “what you do” but “why you do it”.

These are your belief statements. The why of what you do is your belief, and people buy into that belief. A great example is Apple computers. They make computers, yet people don’t buy an Apple computer, they buy into the belief that having their products makes them creative, and the products themselves are easy to use, beautifully designed and fun.

Start with the word Believe as your personal way of looking at the world. If you engage people with what you believe in, you tap into something very powerful.

sabbatical to do listHere’s how to begin.

  1. Write, “I believe in” at the top of a page, then,
  2. Make a list of everything and anything that completes the sentence,
  3. Keep going until you run out of ideas or the page is full.

Why for me:

Once done, your “I believe in” statements become a very powerful statement of who you are. Pick a few that moved you and say them out loud to yourself to create and gain personal empowerment.

Business Students washing up Siskontyttö-statueWhy for my company:

Go one step further. Use these powerful statements in your business for creating your unique vision and marketing statement. This is what people are buying from you; what your product stands for and why it exists. Or on the flip side, maybe you work in a company and have to deal with other employees. How does the team work together? Does motivation and cohesiveness wane at times? By looking at the question of what people believe in we may get to the root of a problem. Understanding the values in the team we may uncover answers to questions  such as: Why are we here and why are we putting in all these hours in? To gain more motivation, create ‘The belief statements’.

Why for the world:

Now for those of you that love to stretch an idea to the nth degree, let’s go even further. From a societal point of view, there almost seems like a crisis of consciousness, which essentially is a crisis of belief. What do we believe in our society?  Right now we believe the world is in rapid change, constant flux, imminent threat of terrorism and danger. This is how we believe our world is today. If we turn that around and say, we believe we are all connected, we believe we have the power of common consciousness, we believe that one person can make a difference, through social networking and exposure they can have now. If that is your belief system then you can change the world simply by saying what you believe in and gathering support from others that believe in you as well.

Martin Luther King did not say “I have a plan” He had a belief, a dream. A plan is a step-by-step action that almost no-one cares about. I have a plan does not create an emotional engagement. “I believe in” has an emotional engagement. And at a fundamental level people are emotional creatures. We are motivated by our emotional needs. We need to believe.

ah-has-in-brain-1a--richardstep-unleash-your-s...Why do it:

The word Believe is a very powerful word and how we use it and manifest in our lives can give us personal growth, personal empowerment, provide connections with people, create business success, both with the clients externally and internally with the people working for you.

Think about what you believe in. Write it out. Say it out loud. While planning is important, even more important is connecting to that inner voice that always asks “why”. I believe this simple “I believe in” exercise will move you to places that no rational plan ever could.

And if you just need a little nudge here and there, be sure to send me a message by email, twitter or comment on the blog. I will respond to you because that is one of the things I believe in.

So come on, get going. It’s 2015 now. What do you believe in and what will you do this year?

Inside the worlds of Damian Siqueiros

Interview with Damian Siqueiros, photographer and visual artist

Les Grands Ballets - Transfigured Night

Les Grands Ballets – Transfigured Night     (May 15-24, 2014)


Making Montreal his home now, Mexico-born Damian Siqueiros splashed onto the scene not less than five years ago. Fine and decorative arts, photography, and painting figured prominently in his early training and informs and shapes his work as he continues to create new artworks. His artistic sensibility has also translated into his commercial work, the latest of which are the posters for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens displayed throughout Montreal billboards and metro system.

Winning several grants and prizes such as the Public’s choice Scotia Bank Prize 2010 in Montreal’s Art Souterrain he has exhibited his stunning images in museums and galleries in Mexico, Spain, Paris, New York (The Gabarron Foundation), Washington D.C. (Art Museum of the Americas), and Canada.

I had the occasion to sit down with this creative force and have a conversation about art, photography and the business of setting up his business in Montreal. It was a lovely sunny afternoon when I knocked on his door and he invited me up to his private studio.

One of the first questions I asked was how he established himself in Montreal as a photographer. He tells me how he hit the pavement, approaching Ad agencies and showing his portfolio everywhere. Eventually he got his start doing political portraits. He also submitted artwork to Montreal’s Art Souterrain festival and received public recognition. He continuously works on his art. “The artistic work, that’s my calling. I like to create images that speak to people and in some way challenge their view of the world.” Having just returned from Los Angeles, he did just that with his exposition at the annual photography fair, Photo Independent

What was becoming apparent was the two worlds in which Damian Siqueiros is driving his career. Our conversation turned toward the different perspective that photography as art has versus photography for commercial clients. “You’d be surprised at how differently they work; in terms of  the perception of the work, how you get clients, what the clients need or want.” He summed it up like this, “If you’re working in commercial work, clients need versatility whereas, in artistic work people look for coherence and a recognizable look”.

The approach is different too. With art you can allow yourself to explore the subject as the work is an artistic expression. “Being an artist is exercise in patience.” he says. Artists make their mark later in life with their life experience, their exhibitions and body of work building in value. As with other industries in this internet age, there seems to be a shift in the way art is sold. Artists are able to connect directly with their clients in many ways. As such, “Artists need to be more proactive selling their work to clients.”

With commercial photography you earn money right away. Having budgets, commercial clients need assurance of what the final image will look like. As a photographer you must present a complete concept, with sketches and reference material that the client can approve, then you produce the expected results. Working as a commercial photographer is about offering a service to the client. At times you may work with difficult people and you have to find a way to work together professionally and get the job done. Some jobs may not be glamorous, therefore it’s up to you to make it interesting by approaching each job as a creative challenge.

Les Grands Ballets -Leonce and Lena  (Sept 18- 27, 2014)

Les Grands Ballets -Leonce and Lena (Sept 18- 27, 2014)

In getting new clients it helps to have an agent. Damian met his agent in a series of coincidences and the story confirms that somehow certain people come into our lives just when we need them. Nevertheless marketing still takes up a good part of each day whether connecting with new or existing clients.

As always, my final question is, ” What three most important things would you say to a new photographer starting their business?”

1) Don’t wait until your studies are finished to start to promote yourself. It’ll be a smoother transition by starting in some small way to get your name out there.

2) Select your best images for your portfolio, create a website, a photostream or somewhere where people can see your images. It’s important to have your promotional material (portfolio, website, business cards) ready so people can see your work.

3) Be true to yourself, maintain your integrity and act with kindness. Success is not a measure given by others or even what you think your life should look like. This ego driven idea of self is actually a constraint on your happiness. “Once you define yourself, you are putting yourself between your evolution and your goals and what you think you are. If you let go of that you have much more space to grow in different ways.”

His ongoing show is in Hollywood. Just a hop-skip-and-plane-ride away.


To find out more or connect with Damian Siqueiros

His Website 
His blog The Simpler side of Art
His facebook page Damian Siqueiros photographer

11 Myths About Running A Photography Business

Dusk Thoughts

I can vividly remember the first day I opened my photography business. I had spent weeks getting everything in order, from my official business license to my website to my own, handmade personal logo. I had all my release forms printed out, a folder to keep them organized and a calendar all laid out, complete with color coded markers I would use for each different session I would (hopefully) be booking in the near future.

Oh yeah…I was fancy.

I was also naive. I took advice from anywhere I could get it, regardless of the source. Fellow photographers, internet business articles and Facebook photography groups were my best source of information, and honestly, it was quite a mixed bag. There was a lot of information that was complete (pardon my french) bullshit, and I wish for the life of me there was a way to go back and talk some sense into my early photographer self. However, since I’m still not the proud owner of my very own, personal time-machine, I figured spilling the beans to the rest of you might be just as productive.

Myth #1: The Photography Market is Over-Saturated – There’s No Room For You

I heard this little tidbit countless times during my first year as a photographer: that I better have a backup plan, that I shouldn’t invest too much money into my business because it was only a matter of time before I realized it was doomed for failure.

Here’s the thing – photography is an over-saturated market – with mediocre photographers. There are plenty of people out there with cameras calling themselves “photographers” that shoot on auto and have no idea what the hell “ISO” and “DOF” even stand for. And that’s okay! Those people aren’t your competition.

Your competition is the photographer that is doing exactly the same business model as you are, which (as you’ll read in the next point) probably isn’t happening. I’ll give you an example:

There are hundreds of professional photographers in my town, but I’d say the number of truly, truly exceptional ones are under 20. Of these, they all specialize in different areas. I know of maybe three utterly fantastic weddings photographers, two unbelievably talented newborn photographers, a couple boudoir specialists, a few senior photo pros, one fashion shooter, a couple insanely talented photojournalists and one unbelievable landscape/interior photographer. Then there is me who shoots fine art. There is plenty of room for all of us. Which brings me to Myth #2…

Myth #2: Fellow Photographers Are Your Worst Enemies

For semantic’s sake, I put this as the second myth, but really it should be #1, hands down. Your fellow photographers aren’t your competition – they’re your best allies! Let me explain:

Wedding photographers, for example, can only shoot one wedding a day (and many times, only one wedding per weekend), so what happens when someone calls for a day they’ve already booked? They refer out to other wedding photographers! As a fellow wedding shooter it’s in your best interest to have a fantastic working relationship with every other wedding photographer in town. If they can’t do the job, you’re first on their referral list.

Plus, with everyone specializing in so many things, it only makes sense to work together. Many wedding photographers aren’t interesting in shooting newborn babies, but you can bet a year after a couple gets married the first one they’re going to call as soon as they’re expecting is their wedding photographer. So refer to your favorite newborn place, and in turn they’ll refer weddings to you. Why wouldn’t they? A wedding sent to you is a guaranteed client the following year!

In addition, getting to know your fellow photographers also give you the chance to collaborate with something amazing. The photographers in Billings are now some of my closest friends and I would be miles behind in business if I hadn’t gotten to know them. Besides, who are you going to share nerdy photographer humor with? Because contrary to what you might think, your cat is not laughing at your random jokes about shutter speed and F-stop.

Myth #3: You Can Finally Get Out From Behind That Computer

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 11.01.28 PM

Sorry folks, but not quite. As a fine art photographer, the vast majority of my time is spend sitting behind a computer screen, editing individual pixels one after the other, but it’s similar with others in the business as well. The time you spend shooting is actually a very, very small percentage of how you’ll spend your time, and most of it will be on the computer. Editing, marketing, submitting content for publishing, writing blog posts, filing, accounting, and a thousand other things I can’t think of right now because I’m in the middle of Myth #4.

Myth #4: Owning Your Own Business Means Making Your Own Hours

Oh…honey. Owning your own business means working all hours. See this is where a photography business has the exact same quality as every other small business that has ever been in existence – you’ll work far more than 40 hours/week. It takes literally every ounce of time you have to get your business off it’s feet and moving in the right direction.

Myth #5: Your Photographs Sell Themselves

Oh dear God no they don’t. I admit it’s very difficult to sell in the beginning, especially since you’re fully aware of your lack of experience in the photography arena. If you’ve only been a professional photographer for three weeks it can be very difficult to convince a client they should hire you without sounding like you’re begging. But sales is all part of the game and the sooner you learn to sell yourself, the better.

Myth #6: A Successful Photographer Makes a Lot of Money

A successful photographer makes enough to support themselves as a photographer. That is all.

Myth #7: You Should Specialize. Immediately.



Woah, calm down there. Photography is such a vast field, it takes a while to find out what you’re truly passionate about. I’ve gone from portraits, to night photography, to weddings, to pets, to fashion to fine art and loved every one of those genres…for a while. Then I moved on to something else.

Don’t tie yourself down in the beginning. Feel completely free to branch out among other areas of photography. Try a boudoir shoot or tag along for a wedding. Attend a fine art photography workshop (hint hint: here’s an awesome one coming up soon) or take on a couple senior clients to see if that’s something you’d be interested in.

Myth #8: “Natural Light Photography” Is A Thing

Calling yourself a “Natural Light Photographer” simply means you don’t know the first thing about alternative lighting. Don’t get me wrong, natural light is fantastic (it’s definitely my preferred method of shooting), but you can’t use it as a crutch for not learning how to use proper equipment. Intern at a studio and banish this phrase from your website.

Myth #9: It’s All About The Gear

You know the fastest way a photographer breaks someone of this thought? As soon as someone comments on how amazing our camera must be to take such awesome pictures, we hand it to them and let them snap a few on their own. Everything changes after that.

Because it’s not about the equipment you have, it’s about whether or not you know how to use it. I’ve seen photographers with incredibly expensive gear take some downright embarrassingly bad photos, while witnessing other photographers take spectacular photos on their iPhones. Don’t run out and throw a bunch of money at the newest thing – it’s better to have something modest and then spend your money learning how to properly use it before moving on to bigger and better equipment.

Myth #10: You Can Do Every Aspect Of Your Business By Yourself

You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when a friend tells you they’re saving money by having their cousin photograph their wedding? Yeah, that’s the same feeling every accountant in the world gets when they hear you’re saving money by doing your own taxes. Certain things (like taxes and photographing someone’s wedding) should be left to the pros.

Myth #11: You Will Eventually Get Sick of Photography

I’m not going to lie – life as a photographer is tough, hectic and never seems to end, but here’s another secret – I love every second of it. In fact, the reason my work/free time lines are so blurred is because the first thing I want to do when I have some free time is shoot!

Think about it this way: I recently had a conversation with a friend about retiring. She said she’d happily retire ASAP while I told her I didn’t think I’d ever retire. She stared at me with wide eyes until I asked her what she would do with her time off and she replied with, “Photography.”

Exactly :).



Jenna has recently returned from a month long stint in New York working with fashion photographer, Lindsay Adler (aren’t we jealous?!) To learn more about Jenna and her work, visit her website.


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Isabella’s rebellion toward redefining beauty

Interview with Ella Photography

580150_10152677602665046_318687309_nMontreal has its share of photographers, but none like Isabella of Ella Photography. She believes that “no matter who you are and what you look like, you ARE beautiful”. She has been running her wedding and lifestyle photography business, Ella Photography, for a number of years now which she started after deciding that the fashion world contributed to a broken view of beauty. Fashion is fickle, and its images it promoted to young girls, such as her niece, gnawed on her conscience to the point where she realized she was part of the problem. “So I quit”, Ella recounted.

In a rebellious spirit, Isabella launched her photography business offering wedding packages and expanding into the growing market of boudoir photography. Boudoir photography is more elegant, sensual and quite intimate in comparison to weddings. Isabella believes that she captures what is already there. Her goal is to prove to her clients that “they are awesome just the way they are, right now”. By making her clients feel comfortable and “real” in front of the camera, the images could completely change their own perspective of “Beautiful”. Two years into her photography business, she was diagnosed with a thyroid condition that affected her eyes and challenged her personal view of beauty. The journey to her self rediscovery was challenging but made the belief in her cause even stronger. She understands the value of her company’s philosophy in making her clients look and FEEL beautiful.

For Isabella, photography was something she just did ever since she was a child. She hadn’t thought of photography as a career until one day, in her marketing job, she was given the opportunity to shoot fashion. Since then, she evolved and made it her mission to make the world a better place.

Her photographic style focuses on redefining the term “beautiful” to her clients and touches on emotions. “I like photographs that speak to the viewer, photos that evoke emotion”, she says. She makes her clients feel beautiful and she captures couples on their most beautiful day, their wedding day. With two lovable dogs and great clients, she says she wouldn’t change anything in her life right now.

Isabella says she landed in photography by fluke, but we all know effort and work was involved.  Coming from a marketing background she starts off with key advice, “Word of mouth is the best marketing strategy”.  With that said she also believes you must be genuine and provide great customer service so that people remember you and talk about you. Isabella doesn’t believe in competition amongst other photographers, because there is a client for every kind of photographer.

To keep the business side running smoothly, an accountant is the first thing you need to find. They can help you set up your systems, give you tips on managing money, and keep all the compliance work such as business filing, registrations, income tax filings up-to-date and orderly, helping you avoid penalties or fines for non-compliance.

Starting any business is challenging. She adds, “If you want something to happen, you will stop at nothing to make it work. Money should never be an issue. When starting out, everyone feels just as lost as you”. The best advice for that, she says is “Don’t give up!”.

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