5 Minute Trick to Get People to Take Your Photo Business Seriously

Do you roll your eyes when someone says they’re a “writer?”


Well, chances are, people are rolling their eyes when you’re saying you’re a “photographer.”


Then they proceed to tell you about their Aunt Joan who takes nice pictures of flowers and posts them to facebook and oh, just yesterday, one got 343 likes (even though when you look at the photo, the lighting is all wrong, and there’s severe camera shake).


Now if someone said they’re an “author” or “own a copywriting business,” you wouldn’t roll your eyes anymore, would you?


EVERYONE’s a writer.

Just like EVERYONE’s a photographer.


So, my dear, here’s what you say instead:


  • I’m a professional photographer

  • I own a photography studio

  • I own a photography business

  • I’m a full-time photographer


Any of thee above will get people to stop rambling about Aunt Joan and start to take you seriously.


What, you say?

You want people to actually CARE about what you say you do, and just taking you seriously isn’t enough?


ADVANCED MATERIAL: How to get people to lean in a little closer, squint their eager eyes, and ask you to tell them more.


A few weeks ago I was chatting with Ellie Scarborough Brett, former NBC news correspondent and founder of Media Bombshell about just this topic.

Your quick fix?

Start with “why” you do it.

It sounds so simple

But it’s about as simple to implement as “eat less, exercise more, and you’ll lose weight!”

At the end of our podcast interview, I aske her to give me a few examples of how to actually do this, to which she replied, “Lisa, I’ve been doing this the entire interview!”



(face palm)


Now, I know what you’re thinking.

You’ve tried narrowing down your why 50,000 times and have pages of brainstorming and highlighter and even came up with something once or twice, but it’s sitting in the bottom of a drawer somewhere.


Not to worry. This doesn’t have to be the entire brand of your business. It can change every day. It can evolve every day.


Step 1: So here’s the big question:

Why do you do what you do? (Bonus points: Always, always, always make it have to do with your client.)


Do you photograph families and children because when you look at your own children, you see how fast their little personalities and quirks are changing, and you want to give families that record of who they are now?


Do you photograph couples because from your own wedding you know how fast the day goes and how many emotions and moments you miss as a bride in the hubbub, so you take care to get candid’s of all of the guests?


For me,  everything above is part of my “why.” And, I photograph high school seniors and tweens, because when I was that age I worried so much about how I looked. If my hair wasn’t curled right, if my shoes didn’t go with my outfit, etc. And I know that having some images where I could just see myself as beautiful and not too this or too that, would have really helped me stop being so shy.


Step 2: How to take your “why” and put it in your answer.


Starbucks barista in drive thru: So are you working today?


You: I am! I’m just about to go back to my business! (instantly you are a business owner not merely a “photographer”)


Barista: Oh, you own a business! What business is it?


You:  Well, I have 3 little boys at home, and I’m already starting to dread the day they don’t want to cuddle with me, and hug me when I drop them off at school. So I believe in photographing families and kids in a playful way so as kids grow up, moms can always remember what it felt like to have her cuddly little kids.


Step 3: But how do you use this in the tough questions, like pricing?


Bride: Hi! What are your wedding packages?


You: Hi Bride! I believe in full event coverage, so that you and your groom can relax on the wedding day, and not feel rushed between the events of the day and the photos. The happiest day of your life is supposed to be FUN not stressful! So all of my collections have 8 hours of coverage, and my packages start at $xyz. This way there is plenty of time for me to get candids of the guests and capture all of the emotions of the day.


Your 5 Minute Action Steps:

  1. Answer your “why.” If your photograph different categories, like weddings, families/kids, seniors, then answer a “why” for each of these.

  2. Write out a 2-3 sentence answer including your “why” for what to say when somebody asks you what it is you do for a living.


Want more info on how to get people to care about what you say?

4 thoughts on “5 Minute Trick to Get People to Take Your Photo Business Seriously”

  1. Great post. I’m having trouble with my why for boudoir photography. I mean my real why is because it makes women feel beautiful and confident and it’s exciting. But there are lots of things that can do that. Why does every woman NEED to do a boudoir session? Why do they NOT need to wait until they lose 10 pounds or 20 pounds or more?

  2. I’ve been praying and hoping for years that I could combine my love of writing and photography. YOU’VE ANSWERED THAT! Thank you for validating what I’ve always wanted and done personally. Throughout my adulthood and especially through my daughters’ childhood, I’ve photographed and written to tell the stories of the moments. When I look back at the images and words, I’m immediately filled with those sights, sounds, settings and emotions. My daughters have a record of their stories and a document of their lives–something to share with their own children and even grandchildren! Life is precious and matters. That is my why! Thank you, Lisa, for helping us. Your heart, your humor, your talent…invaluable!

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