the prosperous photographer

What is the one thing that changed the trajectory of your photo business?

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My mission is to help you create a business and life that you want: profitable, inspired and on your terms.  Give yourself permission to have the business you truly want. 


I get asked this question a lot and I thought, hey, why not address it here on the blog.

That question is, what is the one thing that really changed your business?

This is a tough one because I don’t know that there’s really just one thing because I think that there’s many pivotal moments in a, in the trajectory of a business, definitely a few that stand out.

And one specifically happened maybe 17 or 18 years ago. In fact, I remember I was pregnant with Gabby and she just turned 17. So that definitely puts it right in that window. Keith was doing a job in Vegas. And it was a corporate job. He was asked to take photos of guests that were attending the conference he was photographing with the, I think it was the Blue Men group and Jay Leno, with guests. 

Now, I know this stuff is done all the time, so there’s nothing groundbreaking about this assignment. 

Except that this was the first time we put two and two together and recognized that Keith’s skills as a studio photographer could be used outside of the studio. It was like the light went off. We were going to create, or at least in my mind, we were, we, sometimes it takes Keith and I to get on the same page a little bit of time, but in my mind we were going to create a business.

That used the skill of a one light setup to basically add an additional product offering.

And probably what triggered me to really take this seriously and really think a little bit outside of the box that I was thinking at the time, was that he was paid really damn well for that job in Vegas.

But it clicked with me that this could become a viable business of its own – to figure out how can we incorporate this into our photography business.

We didn’t 100 percent incorporate it immediately because we had to figure it out.

What were we offering, and to who, and for how much? We had to answer those questions for ourselves.

We sat on it for a bit until we came up with our new business, and we called it the Live Photo Booth. Maybe having the word photo booth was a little bit misleading to some people, so, I don’t know, but it seemed like the right name at the right time, because I think, in our minds, what we were doing is we had this one light setup, and we were using it for different things, so it was almost like a portable studio, so

We called it a live photo booth because it was, wasn’t really a booth, was an open air set up with a light. So that name caught on. It’s still the name of that business today. This business has been on equal footing with our wedding and portrait business, probably bringing in close to 30 percent of our revenues, maybe more depending on the year, for over a decade now, well over a decade.

What was the secret to this business? It was the one light setup. Yep, this simple one light setup has brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars to our business.

Even all these years later it still baffles us how more people do not use this setup in their business.

We were able to use this setup for all sorts of things at all sorts of events in all sorts of places. It made us lots and lots of money. 

The money that we brought in from our one light setup business brought in enough to support our family, I’m just seeing it as the, another product offering that can easily bring us in more money.

So there was a little bit going back and forth about how to make this something that we placed a certain value on – we were not cheap and we definitely priced our product at a high level and we still continue to do so. We were priced above the masses. And I think with that comes a certain type of client.

That’s part of something that I love to teach when I talk about marketing and the business side of the business. And I’m getting a little bit long winded here, but the point of me bringing this up is that there’s a few things that it can take you as the photography business owner a little while to accept, you know what, I can add another product line into my business and I can make a heck of a lot of money from it.

And that’s the reason why I’m answering this question right now and why I’m bringing up this example. Because it’s another example of how we’re living proof that everything I’m talking about is something we’ve already done, and I want to share that with you about how this is possible for you as well.

I just mentioned that the money we brought in from this One Light Setup business might be the main reason that we were able to pay off all of our debt, save and realize the stream we had to move to fence.

Cause we were, it was almost like an extra revenue stream when you, when you look at it because we had our main business, which was wedding and portraits. Then we have this, One light set up business that we use for all sorts of things and then we had other event photography business. And it grew and grew and grew over time So we were able to really Have this extra discretionary income that we could use to pay off the debt, save and really create this life that we wanted for our family.

And one of the other beauties of this business, this one light photography business, was that, as I just mentioned, it was one of a few photography business that we had running together simultaneously, each with their own niche, attracting their own ideal clients.

That’s really important to recognize that each of the three businesses that we had at this time, each had their own niche, and they attracted their own clients.

And I’m going to admit a couple of things here. It took me being very persistent to persuade Keith that using one light setup for all sorts of things was a good idea. I think he thought he was selling out his hard earned photography skills and reputation – so in his mind, he had to get over the fact that he thought he was selling out. He’s come to think absolutely the opposite of that, but at the time he just couldn’t wrap his head around the business, the business idea that I was throwing at him.

It didn’t even occur to me why his ego was hurt at the time. I’m on the business side of our business and all I can think of is, you know, we had to feed our kids and this was potentially a cash cow. If one of them in Vegas could pay our bills pretty much for the entire month, then why wouldn’t we figure out a way to fit this into our product offerings?

To me it was a no brainer, but to him it was a matter of ego and pride. So once we were able to reconcile that, everything shifted. 

I also want to admit something about myself. I was afraid of lighting. I feared it. I honestly feared it. I was the queen of being a natural light photographer. I was afraid of lights. I was afraid of learning lighting.

I went back to college, as we all know if you’ve heard my story. You’ve heard me speak of becoming a photographer in my 40s. And of course, in order to get my diploma, I had to take lighting courses. And it just didn’t sink in. It did not sink in as fast as I would have thought it would have. And I think probably it’s because I didn’t have a passion for it.

So I think there was a disconnect for me. I learned it because I had to, but not because I wanted to. And, elaborate studio lighting, and the different types of lighting styles and techniques, it just didn’t come naturally to me at all.

But I eventually, through Keith showing me his foolproof, simple way to light, I, and I don’t want to say he had to dumb it down for me, because I think the process he created for this one light setup was based on certain photography lighting principles, and he was able to simplify it.

And because we were sending other people out on jobs for us, we had to have a system in place that anyone could replicate. All of our photos needed to look similar. And he had to dial in the settings, and this had to be something simple that you could teach to different photographers so that they could go out and replicate the product that we were putting out.

So, back to Keith showing me this foolproof, simple way to light. Eventually, I was able to become one of the photographers in our rotation that went out on jobs. And that was a really big deal for me because I avoided that for, I hate, hate to admit it, but probably a couple of years.

I was definitely very nervous at first. And even though Keith had created this very simple blueprint. For how this all worked the simple lighting setup and a few common sense things I needed to know and I was practically a one light pro my first time out. I did a good job and the client thought I was great, so I guess that’s all that mattered. I wish I had life coaching then. I held myself back those couple of years thinking, I can’t do this because I used this thought to keep me back.

It wasn’t until I took action, learned Keith’s Simple Lighting Setup, and I put myself out there taking that action. I was able to prove to myself that I could do it. It looks so silly now. And I mean, I look back, I’m like, why did it take so long? Why didn’t I just believe in myself? And then I had the ability to do it.

These are questions. I’m just being honest with you guys. Cause these are questions that I actually asked myself. Like, why did I sit on this for so long? I had an easy blueprint and I was still afraid to go out and do it. I hate to throw you natural light photographers under the bus, because I used to be one as well.

But once I added this lighting setup to my photography tool belt, our business soared. back to the question I was asked about what’s one thing I really think changed our business. And as I said, I think many things did and there’s many pivotal moments, but this was one of them.

Me believing in myself as a photographer had been coming along for some time. But adding this, this tool into my photography tool belt, I feel like things took off from there. We were unstoppable in some ways.

And we basically created a market for our product in our community and beyond that was different than what I thought anyone else was doing. And we grew this business to what it is today.

And we’ve been fortunate enough to have worked around the country and even a little further with some pretty big names and high profile clients, all because we took that chance. We looked at our industry and we looked at ourselves and we saw something missing and we filled that niche, we filled the void.

So when I get asked by my coaching clients, what can they do to change their business trajectory? I remind them that taking action creates the results. Maybe it’s learning something new, something that makes them better at their business. That’s paramount to having a truly successful business. 

There was a shit ton of competition out there, and there still is, but adding this new product offering to our business changed everything. We had to step out of our comfort zone, learn new things, implement it, market it, make a few mistakes along the way. But in the end, it was the actions we took and kept taking that led us to creating these results for our business.

To answer that question again, what is the one thing that really changed our business? One of the most pivotal things that changed our business was adding in this one light setup, adding in a new product, adding in something that was out of my comfort zone and taking action to make it work.

Listen to this PODCAST Episode 27

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