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!

Little Bellows Film Retreat Q & A

Little Bellows Film Retreat

Hey friends!  

Last week we announced the the dates for our first ever Little Bellows Film Retreat!  

Since opening registration, we’ve been receiving a ton of questions, so I thought I’d take a few moments today to answer a few.

Here we go…

Q: I’m working on arranging flights, what time do I need to be there on Monday and what time will we wrap things up on Thursday?

A:  We understand that a lot of people will be traveling to Portland for the retreat. 

We’ve planned Monday as a travel day, and have nothing formal planned.  However, we will have an informal cocktail gathering on Monday evening around 7:00pm. 

The workshop will start at 9:00am on Tuesday May 24th, and we will wrap things up around 1:00 on Thursday, so you can easily get a late afternoon flight home.



Q: I know that both Sandra and Meghan are studio photographers.  I don’t have a studio, but I do shoot a lot indoors with my kids and with my clients.  Is this a studio workshop?  I just want to make sure it’s a good fit for me.

A: This workshop is perfect fit for you!!!  We will be teaching techniques for working with indoor window light, outdoor light, and using strobes and speed lights, for those times when you need a little bit extra.  

Our goal is that you leave feeling confident about shooting film in all kinds of light, under all kinds of circumstances. 

Where ever you work, we want you to know how to use the right light, the right film in the right situation to create the look you want.

Q: I’ve noticed that both Sandra and Meghan talk a lot about business and marketing on Little Bellows.  So my question is, is this a film retreat or a business retreat.

A:  It’s both.

Meghan and I are passionate film photographers and are super excited to teach you everything we know about that.  But we are also passionate about running successful and profitable businesses and want to empower you to do that same.

The truth is, shooting film is expensive.  You need to have a strong business model in place is you are going to make it work for your business.  We also believe that shooting film is an amazing way to strengthen your brand and set yourself apart from your competition.  We want to show you how.

Q: Is there still room?

A: Yes!  We still have some openings!  So what are you waiting for? Follow this link to sign up today!