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.

See Alex’s work at:

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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?

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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A Photographers Roadmap in 10 Steps

For anyone who has ever embarked on the road toward their dreams, the biggest question that comes to mind is, “How?”. How will I learn what I need to be good? How will I manage to make money? How will I get started? How will I get financing? How will I tell my boss I quit? How will my family take it?


The road to success is easy and there are innumerable number of books, videos, articles, classes, coaches, retreats etc. that can give you a proven system that will get you to achieve your goals. The system is not the mystery. The actions are not the mystery. The information you need is not a mystery. What confounds people most is figuring what works best for them given some of the bad habits we all have. Procrastination, fear of failure and success, negative self-talk, doubt, and loneliness rear their ugly heads when we really want to move ahead. It’s not the lack of any one thing or cluelessness to the system or the steps to success that impede us but rather our own self-believing limitations. Much can be written about our self-serving beliefs but you can rather read that on all the other pop-psychology and motivational sites.

Almas imageHere I thought I’d introduce you to Eric Almas, Photographer. Eric, originally from Norway came to the US to study photography where he received accolades in his graduating year and onward. He is prolific in his imagery and shares his knowledge as any great teacher can.

I discovered Eric and his work in my own Photoshop class. In this video he gives us a short list of 10 steps to becoming a photographer. Now, as top 10 lists go, this one has some serious punch.

You should really watch the 5 minute video. Take a page out and draw a line down the center. Take notes from the video on one side and then outline your plan, ideas and actions to achieve these steps. Like I said the system is not a mystery, the information is not a mystery. Do it and you will at least move ahead a little bit.

Here are the headings of the 10 steps but you get more out of it if you watch.

1. Define your visual identity

2. See and understand light

3. Seek a mentor

4. Create images, don’t take images

5. Make an emotional and visual connection

6. Set goals and pursue them with tenacity

7. Shoot to exercise your creative muscle

8. Use Photoshop to infuse personality

9. Market to your audience

10. Don’t give up your dream.

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Introducing Yourself as an Artist

By Alyson Stanfield on January 15, 2014

I’ve been surprised at how difficult it can be for artists to introduce themselves as artists.

“I’m an artist” doesn’t seem to roll off the tongue easily for some people. And yet it’s critical to be able to say it with confidence.

Stephanie Hartshorn and Holly Wilson get to know each other at Art Biz Makeover this past fall. Photo by Regina-Marie Photography.

Stephanie Hartshorn and Holly Wilson get to know each other at Art Biz Makeover this past fall. Photo by Regina-Marie Photography.

Why It’s a Struggle

It seems to be easier for people with art degrees to pronounce their profession to the world. This might be because there is a piece of paper that says you completed a curriculum to the satisfaction of an institution.

There isn’t a governing body that confers the title of artist. You don’t have to pass any state licensing boards or get certified.

For most people, there is no turnkey moment when they say, “NOW I know I’m an artist.” It’s more of a slow, steady slog on the way to the title.

This is why it can be difficult to introduce yourself when you are in the process of becoming.

Why You Should Care

But this shouldn’t stop you from trying.

Introducing yourself as an artist is the beginning of your professional relationships. Not introducing yourself as an artist results in missed opportunities.

When you stop apologizing for your art . . . when you stop waffling on your purpose . . . others begin to view you as an artist. And even though you may not be perfectly comfortable with the title, this buy-in from others will help build your confidence.

So stop introducing yourself with a label from your day job. Lead with, “I’m an artist.”

What You Should Say

It’s all about how you respond when someone asks, “So, what do you do?”

This isn’t an opportunity for a commercial about your work. It’s a chance for real connection.

When someone asks what you do, let’s face it, they are mostly being polite. They are exploring how far they want to carry the conversation. They’re looking for something to relate to.

You just have to say, “I’m an artist.”

You’re looking to engage the other person, not to control the conversation. If there is interest, the other person will ask questions.

You should be prepared to follow up with a brief (!) sentence or two about your work. Again, you’re looking for conversation, so make sure your language is inviting and intriguing.

Don’t inflate your position. Don’t be that person.

Make it natural, but own it. Say it with confidence.

Those with whom you were meant to connect will respond positively. Don’t worry about the rest. You have higher things to concern yourself with. You’re an artist.

“Your Compelling Introduction” is part of module 4 in Art Biz Bootcamp, which starts today (January 15, 2014). Join us if this is something you’d like to practice with us. Click here to read about it.

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Gather your marbles before you play

Calypso receiving Telemachus and Mentor in the...

Calypso receiving Telemachus and Mentor in the Grotto (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Susanna Oreskovic

If you are here, reading this blog, you are probably interested in figuring out how take your creative ideas, talents and work and bring it to the world. Many of us create because we enjoy the process. We think if the work is good enough people will find us, will like us and we’ll be on our way. Unfortunately this is not the case.

This leads to another thought; that not only do we have to be creative and keep the wellspring flowing but now we have to work on the business too! This one fact or the lackluster effort of attending to the business side of your work leaves many a creative unknown and doomed to working their day job pretending to get satisfaction in their off hours.

These thoughts turn to feelings of overwhelm and uncertainty on what to do next.

A Mentor?

Searching for help, perhaps you consider if you should find yourself a mentor? What does a mentor do that differs from other forms of guidance such as counseling, coaching or advising? Ask yourself, what is it that you really seek when you consider what a mentor may do for you?

Somehow at the root of this questioning is the feeling that we each want to have someone in our corner, someone who has our interests at heart and someone who can help us navigate the bumps along the way within our chosen field. Essentially, this is what a mentor relationship is– it is a relationship before anything else.

Traditionally mentoring relationships have served their part in socializing new protégés by offering crucial insider information. Just the very interaction itself, the relationship, allows for subtle learning to occur. It allows, for them, to internalize behavioral norms and standards and form a sense of identity and commitment to the field (Weidman, Twale, & Stein, 2001, p. 6).

More like a Team

Perhaps the word ‘mentor’ is throwing you off, feeling a bit too formal, too academic. The terminology has been around since Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. It’s popularity has grown in the last few decades as can be seen by the proliferation of various programs in education, business, community and social work.

Let’s forget the word mentor, use instead Creative Cohort penned by Jennifer Lee  (Right Brain Business Plan). Your Creative Cohorts are people who fill a range of roles; those that will nurture you, those that will mentor or advise you, as well as those to whom you can outsource needed tasks or form strategic allliances with.

Looking at it this way effectively broadens the scope beyond just a need of a mentor but a supporting cast of key mentors and advisors and each one with a specific role.


In your Corner we have…

First look at the people around you that you may know or may want to get to know and choose your team.

1.  Inner Circle – Choose those that you trust and feel secure in knowing your hopes and dreams, successes and failures. Pay close attention to this relationship. You may believe your nearest and dearest have your best interests at heart but innocuous remarks that bring up guilt can be enough to derail you. Especially if you are embarking in new directions make sure your inner circle truly nurtures you. Pay attention to suggestions that you’ve changed or are spending too much time on your project or that you are being selfish. Ignore this. To be truly creative and succeed in making a business you need a sense of safety when you look toward your inner circle.

2.  Advisors Select people who are interested in your project and who you think can help given their experience, expertise or connections. Ideally they are not your competition. If you are just beginning in your field, whether you realize it or not, you already have people around you that are guiding you, giving you feedback and encouraging you. It may not be formally called a mentor or advisor relationship but nevertheless it may be. It’s important to get out and meet people. You can volunteer, go to a Meet-up or join a professional network group. Not only will advisors help you in giving their feedback to your ideas and plans, they can be an invaluable source of future referrals and even clients. You just need to be open, approach them and ask.

3.  Business Advisors this is a select group of people you may need to consult occasionally. Typically this may include a lawyer, an accountant, a banker, a graphic designer, an agent. You cannot know nor have time to learn everything in running your business. You will have to consult and pay professional advisors at some point. It is far better to pay out a few hundred dollars now to get it right than to pay much more later to clean up any mess that may inadvertently arise.

4.  Collaborators Here is where your competitors can help you. You can greatly enhance your business by working with others on special projects. The added benefit of pooling resources and talents creates synergy, i.e. the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. With collaborators you can form strategic alliances to get your product out to different markets, to new clients that would otherwise not have known about you. It also adds credibility to you and what you offer.

You are not alone

Where ever you may be on your career path, understanding that you are not alone can help you reach your goals. Especially when starting out in a new field we may feel alone. Friends and family may not provide the guidance and insights we need. Looking for a mentor is just one player on your team of many. Call it what you will, your management team, your personnel plan, creative cohorts, supports, collaborators, you already have a team and by consciously calling upon them will get you to where you want to go.

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