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How I shifted my photography business during a pandemic

It is no secret the pandemic hit every industry, and it hit hard. As a creative, what hit me the hardest wasn’t the lack of business, it was the lack of creative outlet. I was going stir crazy! Instead of that energy turning into something negative, I used it to my advantage. And let me tell you, I feel like my brand is truly alive and heading into a direction that I’ve been craving for.

Here are the top three things I’ve done to channel my energy to create success:

1. I created an internship program.
At first, I didn’t know how this would pan out. Was I going to have any applicants? Would it be something that I could sustain if I didn’t have any physical sessions to teach them at? But I figured, I won’t know until I took the plunge.

I advertised on my Instagram page and I allowed about two weeks for individuals to submit an application. Once the applications were submitted, I held virtual interviews to ensure I was picking not only the right intern for me and my brand, but the right intern that I could properly guide through this crazy photography world based on their needs. I had over a dozen applicants and let me tell you, I was emotional from it! Emotional that people actually wanted to learn from me! From this, I gained not one, but TWO interns. They are the most incredible ladies I have ever met. Smart, talented, hard working – I could go on and on. The excitement I saw from them fueled my fire to make sure this was going to be the best experience I could ever give them.

I provide a virtual class with them weekly to cover a full range of topics – client experience, wedding tips, camera settings, etc. I’ve even had them host their own styled shoots to start building their portfolios. Karla and Taylor both have been interning with me for only three months thus far and they’ve already started booking clients. How amazing is that?! I feel like such a proud mama bear. After they complete their internships with me, I will bring them on as second and associate shooters.

2. I did an outside of the box collaboration.
Many photographers will do collaborations such as presets, camera harnesses, or other photography related items, but I knew I needed something way more unique. One of my couples that modeled for me a few years ago started their own candle company during quarantine, A & A Apothecary, and it instantly hit me – what if I could have my own candle? Not only would it be unique, but it could be a great gift for my clients. After I approached Aili and Austin regarding the idea, they were all on board!

Here came the hard part – figuring out what the heck the smell was going to be. I asked Aili, if my images had a smell to them, what would you think that scent would be? After some scent mixture testing, we landed on the perfect one – a mixture of jasmine, sandalwood and amber (I know you’re imaging this glorious smell right now). Not only are my clients are loving it, they are flying off the shelves for Aili and Austin. I was so proud of myself that, in an overly saturated industry, I was able to do something unique to stand out from the crowd.

3. I hosted my first educational workshop (of course, safely following CDC guidelines of gatherings)!
Living in Las Vegas, there’s many opportunities to attend styled shoots, some including a “Q&A session” but no real educational workshops. I realized, I wanted to change that. Why isn’t this available to locals here in Vegas? Why would I have to drive to another state to learn something new? I set out to create a new type of experience for photographers here.

The big topic I wanted to start with for the first workshop was educating photographers on how to edit different skin tones. I’ve heard more times than I can count how intimidated people are to photograph different skin tones because they were scared at how hard the editing process would be. Pure lack of education was the cause of this intimidation.

The other piece I wanted to do with this workshop was to have a guest educator. This allowed to truly show there is such a thing as community over competition. I also wanted it to be as real as possible for what was being photographed. Many styled shoots have models only posing to appear married or in love. The participants for my workshop captured a real vow renewal on the couple’s actual wedding anniversary. It was so impactful and meaningful!

Throughout the vow renewal, I was able to educate participants on elopement/wedding tips and tricks such as how to capture a ceremony within 10 minutes or less, how to stick to a timeline, how to optimize the poses to save time, and much more. They were also able to learn from the vendors who were bringing this magical day to life. Over the two day workshop, there was a 4 hour virtual editing class, a modern 50’s session with an Airstream trailer and a real vow renewal. I planned and executed this in less than four weeks. Yes, less than four weeks! I’m not going to lie, I had many individuals who didn’t think this was going to be possible in such short time or they doubted what I was capable of producing.

After the workshop, I had people asking me when my next workshop was going to be and I now have a waitlist. A WAITLIST! Never in my wildest dreams would I imagine I would have a waitlist for something I hosted. I am now in the process of creating a full year worth of pop up shoots and full educational workshops because it fueled a fire in me that I didn’t even know I had.

I hope whomever is reading this becomes inspired; inspired to think outside of the box, keep the wheels moving and still continue to chase your dreams, even during one of the craziest times ever in our country.

Don’t allow anything to come in your way of pursuing what keeps you happy.

My biggest advice to anyone who has been struggling during the COVID pandemic – DON’T GIVE UP! The hard work will pay off, I promise!

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