Your Creativity & Your Business

Chances are you started your photography business because you had a passion for photography. For art. For creating photos for families just as you would want or maybe that you wished you had from your own childhood. You loved it and were really good at it. You were so good people wanted to pay for it. And you maybe thought, "hey a little extra money would be awesome". Then you decided to start a legitimate business. You got a business license (hopefully!!!), created your website, and bought a great logo off etsy. 

Then things slowly started to shift. Facebook groups and photographer friends were shocked at how little you were charging so you decided it was time to charge more. You realized you were shooting a ton, editing a ton, and then you focused a lot on how much you were charging. You created a new price list 4 times in a year. You bought 4 more logos from etsy that same year. You shot a ton and were so happy to book so many sessions.

And then all of the sudden you didn't want to do it anymore.  You dreaded going to sessions. You didn't even care about the money. And you realized you didn't want to even pick up your camera. 

Burn out. It happens to the best of us. And ultimately what it's really about is balancing the creativity and art that fills us with the business savvy and understanding we need. 

Business is boring. To most. There are exceptions that find business interesting and fun (I get called a dork a lot for this and I'm cool with it). But to most photographers and creatives, it's the part of it all that makes us cringe. And the thing is, if you understand business you can put things in motion so you don't have to think about it all the time. You can focus on being creative and stretching your work and staying inspired. You just have to learn a little business. 

Your photography business does not have to be a drag. You can still be creatively fulfilled making beautiful photographs exactly how you want AND have a successful, profitable business. It just takes a little extra work and a little bit of re-focusing priorities. Less about the logo and what everyone else tells you should be happening with your business and more about what you need your business to become.

© Meghan Boyer Photography

Are you burnt out? It's the spring, so probably not yet. But bookmark this to come back and read on October 17. When you are in the middle of that crazy ass fall season that your bank account needs but your brain, heart, and sometimes lower back desperately hate. OR don't wait until the fall. Just wait a few weeks and join us in Portland for our Little Bellows Retreat. Registration closes on Friday (that's only 2 days away). Don't miss out. Let us help you prevent that next burn out stage.

Finding Happiness in Your Work

My entire photography journey has been selfish. 

It feels silly to say that out loud. But it's completely true. I started because I needed something to help me grieve the loss of my son. I picked up my camera determined to learn something new and cope, learning to see the world differently because I NEEDED to. 

I started practicing with my camera photographing children in my neighborhood because I NEEDED to take photos of other people's children since I couldn't shoot my own. 

Then I started my photography business full time because I felt guilty quitting my job to stay at home with my baby boy, born a year later after my loss, and I NEEDED to feel more than a SAHM.

I started shooting film because I wanted to be a cool kid. I continued shooting it even though it seriously cut into my profits because I loved the way it looked and I LOVED not having to edit.

I began shooting weddings because I needed bigger paydays. 

I stopped shooting weddings because I didn't like playing the game of "hire me not them!". 

I began sharing a studio because I needed to feel legit as a photographer, even though I was a "lifestyle" photographer and didn't know what I would shoot in the studio space itself.

Every decision I have made has ultimately, even though sometimes unconsciously, been about what I want. I've been trying to be happy. 

My personal AND professional photography journey has been about my own happiness. I am the type of person that harbors a lot of feelings and sometimes (often) a lot of sadness inside every part of me. It's just who I am. And the older I get the more I understand it. 

Newborn Photographer Maryland Meghan Boyer Photography

In the last few years, instead of just doing what I thought I should do (becoming a "lifestyle" photographer), I started to think about what would really make ME happy. What did I want and why? How do I make that happen? What if it's not the norm and everyone laughs at me? What if my business falls apart because I'm not doing what everyone else does? What if I just flat out fail? What if?

I figured it out. For me anyway. I found out how to begin to let go of the things I didn't want to do. I gave myself permission to be selfish without feeling guilty about it. 

And you know what happened? I didn't fail. I began to smile more. I began to enjoy going to shoots. I started falling in love with my work and feeling proud about what I was making, what I was doing, who I was photographing. I didn't listen to anyone who was laughing at me, only those laughing with me.

My work changed. My business changed. And I finally felt that sense of happiness and fulfillment in my work and my business. 

I want the same for you. 

Are you happy in your work? Do you feel fulfilled? Are you stuck with to many "what if" questions in your head? Let's work those out. Together

Come join me and Sandra at the Little Bellows Retreat. I promise you will leave Oregon with a sense of what you too can do for yourself AND your business to begin (or continue) your own journey of becoming happy with your work. 

I hope to see you there.


Little Bellows Film Retreat: Registration Closing Soon! Don't Miss Out!

Little Bellows Film Retreat

Okay... so way back in January, Meghan Boyer and I announced we were hosting a Little Bellows Film Retreat in May.  In January, May seemed like a long ways a way. But now, here we are in April, and May is just around the corner.


We will be closing registration for the retreat soon, but before we do, I wanted to take a few moments to answer your questions and tell you why I think you should come join us in Portland.

Here we go . . .  

Let me start with why you should come join us.

For starters, both Meghan and I are a lot of fun (can I say that about myself? Ha!)  More importantly though, we are both accomplished photographers and business owners who are passionate about our trade AND about helping others create a profitable business that they LOVE.


And this Retreat is a screaming deal!


Tuition covers three nights lodging, three days of breakfast, lunch AND afternoon cocktails, detailed instruction on film stocks, working in all kinds of light (outdoor, indoor and artificial light), guided newborn and family shoots, portfolio reviews, discussions on how to find your passion and turn that into a successful business, personalized mentoring, and some exciting extras thanks to our friends at Richard Photo Lab.

You can choose to stay in your own room, or share with a friend.  And we've built in down time so you can enjoy the spa, soak enormous heated lounging pool, play a round of golf, or just sit and relax in one of the many gardens the Edgefield has to offer.

It really is going to be amazing!


And the number one most asked question:
Will you be doing this again next year?

At this point in time, this retreat is a one time special offer. So if you think this might be the perfect thing for you and your business, then do it!  

Take the leap! Bite the bullet!
It will be worth it. I promise.

Little Bellows Film Retreat

See you soon!

Sandra & Meghan

The Importance of Follow Up

Sandra Coan, newborn photography, Little Bellows

One of the things I teach when mentoring is the importance of good communication and follow up.

I always say, reach out to your clients. Show them what you can do for them with your images.  Tell them what you have to offer with an effective website and a solid email marketing campaign.

 And follow up!  

Got and inquiry that you never heard back from?  Follow up.

A call that you returned, but only got their voicemail?  Follow up.

You have something to offer.  

Your clients want to hear from you.  

Don't be embarrassed, or shy.  Tell the world "I'm really good at my job and I want to share my gift with you"

I believe in it and I like to practice what I preach, so here it is.

My follow up.

Sandra Coan studio lights and film, Little Bellows

A couple of weeks ago, Meghan Boyer and I announced our Little Bellows Film Retreat, a two and a half day film and business get-a-way at the beautiful Edgfield winery in Portland, OR.  

This is truly a workshop like no other, specifically designed for family photographers who specialize in film.

Whether you shoot in a studio or in client's homes, you will leave with a firm understanding of how to handle any lighting situation, how to use artificial light for that extra boost when you need it, and what film stocks will work best for your desired look and feel.

You will also learn to establish your brand, set yourself apart from your competitors, create a workflow that will save you time and money, and what you need to know to create a business that feeds your soul (and your family)

As an added bonus, each attendee will get a 30 minute mentoring session with either Sandra or Meghan to get in depth with your specific needs.

This retreat is designed to ignite your creativity, strengthen your business, and revive your passion.

Click here for all of the details and to register.

See you in the spring!

Branding vs. Marketing

Do you know the difference between branding and marketing? If I posted the question on Facebook, I would get some answers that were spot on, some that were a little confused, and some would just say something to the effect that branding is your logo. It can get confusing.


Let's tackle marketing first because it's the easiest to understand. It's more straight forward. 

Marketing is how to reach your people. It's what you do to reach your people. The actions you take to keep your people engaged. Marketing is your message. Newsletters, social media campaigns, your printed materials....that's marketing (very simplified marketing). Your logo and business cards? That's not branding. Those are marketing materials!

Marketing is easier to control. You are consciously putting things out there in front of clients or potential clients in hopes of getting their business. Branding is harder to control because we sometimes don't fully understand all that it encompasses.


So then, what is branding. Branding is you. Is your work. It's every word you write, every image you choose to post. Every complaint you write on your personal Facebook page is a part of your brand. I'll let that soak in for a second . . .  

Maryland Newborn Photographer Meghan Boyer Photography

Yes. Even your personal page, your personal tweets, your likes on a Donald Trump post or pledged support for Hillary Clinton or vaccinations or Super Bowl controversy, even on your personal page, is a reflection on your brand. Even if you aren't "friends" with your clients! And this is not to say there is anything wrong with any of that. You just need to consider that everything having to do with YOU is a part of your brand. 

Consistency is King

Branding is crucial for your business. It's your photographic style. It's the way you present yourself to clients, in person or in correspondence. It should always be consistent. Your BRAND is the foundation. It is how clients are attracted to you, and if it looks different every time you do not have a strong brand. And then those clients will go next door to one of the other thousands of photographers in your area for their next session. Your brand should make your clients FEEL something. They should get the same feeling every time they think about their next session with you. Is your brand funky, modern, and exciting? Your clients will feel excited about the unique images they'll get. Is your brand classic and clean? Your clients might feel a sense of calm knowing they're going to get another classic family portrait for their walls. 

Maryland Newborn Photographer Meghan Boyer Photography

There is SO much more I could talk about in this post. This is a VERY brief overview. But, it is something we'll talk in depth about at the Little Bellows Film Retreat in May! If you missed the release of that YESTERDAY, go check it out for yourself!! We hope to see you there.