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Being Your Brand

Lesson 1 of 1

Being Your Brand with Mecca Gamble McConnell

Mecca Gamble McConnell, Kenna Klosterman

Being Your Brand

Mecca Gamble McConnell, Kenna Klosterman

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Lesson Info

1. Being Your Brand with Mecca Gamble McConnell

Lesson Info

Being Your Brand with Mecca Gamble McConnell

Mhm. What? Yeah. Hello, everyone. And welcome to Creativelive. Welcome back to Creativelive. I'm your host, Ken Klosterman, bringing you another live, uncut episode of our We are photographers podcast, where we connect you with our favorite photographers, film makers and industry greats all over the world. So that we could talk about the ups and the downs of living a creative life. Because that is what connects us all. It's not always roses, and once we start sharing with each other, that's how we learn to get through the hard times and celebrate the winds. So let me know where it is you're tuning in from. If you're joining us, live right now. If you're on creative life dot com slash tv, you can check, click on the chat, little icon there, join us, let me know where you are tuning in from in the world. And of course, if you're watching on social media, you can do the same. But I'm looking forward to giving those shout outs to our guest today, and I'm very excited to bring on for the ve...

ry first time here on Creativelive Mecca. Gamble, McConnell and Mecca is a not only a brand photographer but also a coach of business coach for photographers as well. And as you'll come to see, she lives her brand through and through. Whether that's what's behind her on her wall, her glasses. She has been not only a photographing but also teaching as well, helping others. Like I said, coaching through her group coaching program, Picture yourself profitable and again focusing on helping others do what she has been able to dio. And she her personality style and work ethic um, have allowed her to stand out. She's been published in essence, upscale and the not. She is in Atlanta, Georgia, and I'm just super excited. Thio have Mecca gamble McConnell on Mecca. Thank you for being here. Thank you so much for having me, Kenah. It is really an honor and a pleasure to be speaking with you today. Awesome. Well, first of all, the glasses where they from? Where'd you get them? Well, thank you. First and foremost the fashion. Um, they air from a company called C I where you can find them in in specific hubs and cities and online. Awesome. Um, if you guys are listening to the audio version of this Of course. Sorry. You'll have to go check out Mecca on social media where you will find all of her bold and bright, um, fashion and branding eso. I want thio just to start by, I think I mean, this is a conversation about you and your life and your but But I also feel like there's so many insights into, um, what we could learn about branding by using you as an example. And one of the things that really struck me was that your your brand statement about who you are, eso and I'm just going to read it again. Like Mecca Gamma, McConnell's a sought after brain photographer who creates strategic, compelling images for service based entrepreneurs that helped them tell their stories and communicate their expertise like it's crystal clear. Tell us about what it took to get Thio being able to crisply and succinctly be able to stay what you are, who you are and who you're here to serve. I think it took me getting it wrong so much and really trying to find my way as a photographer for so many years until one day I kind of felt that nudge and it was just like you're gonna leave weddings. You know, you're not gonna You're gonna quit booking weddings and you are going to shoot women, particularly women of color, because it's important that these women be seen in online and in their respective mediums where they're not particularly shone with having joy with having an expertise. And I just really felt that calling to completely developed that before we even had a terminology for it. You know, brand photography is really popular right now, especially after this pandemic. There's so many people switching over into more commercial, um, niche. But for me, brand photography has been something that I have been doing since I started back in 2000 and 12, but I didn't know what it was called, You know, we called it lifestyle. We called it so many different things. I always loved shooting women, but I didn't know what to call it. And I'm so happy that I listened to my spirit and I went more in that direction because it really helped me. It really helped me marry my journalism degree and my brief background working at an advertising agency. It helped me really marry that together And then I started studying, and I really came to understand exactly what experts need to show up online visually as okay, So there's a number of things in there that I want to dive deeper into its starting with going back Thio the Okay, So starting with this concept of of brain photography not even being a thing when you started because I think that's really interesting when you said, Oh, we call it lifestyle photography. Yeah, I mean, it z it coining or having a a term that is slightly differentiated as to kind of what the intention is. Maybe lifestyle is like, editorial or what have you. But when you say, you know I'm a brand photographer again, you you know that there's a service to helping people achieve what they you know what they want to achieve for themselves as entrepreneurs or what have you. And so I also heard you talk about this word strategic photos, okay. And so how how do you think? Um, a photo can be strategic. So for me personally, there's a lot of strategy behind the way I developed a shoot for a client. There is, you know, a framework that we go through. We go through the discovery calls and deciding whether or not the client is a good fit for working with me. I don't want to just make it about business. There is a ministry for me that's involved with it for me to understand exactly what this client needs and me being the right choice and the right fit for them as their creative I because it's an honor to me. For somebody to use photos that they that I took of them and put them at their head shot on their social media or use them across their social media platforms are on their website. That's a huge honor for me. And that's not just something that I want to take lightly or just do it for a business transaction. So I first need to see if they're a good fit. But the strategy behind it is providing them with exactly what it is that they need for their visual brand. On DSO, there's a series of questions that I take my clients through. There's some planning that's involved with it as well. Um, of course, you know, you get your typical headshot, but it's so much more than that. It's really important that their personality shines through their images and who they are and their area of expertise and what they do and how they serve others. It's important for that to show through their images as well. So that's the strategic nous of it. I take a lot of time to get to know and understand them. Is people in them as business owners and brands and themselves? Well, it's so interesting because, sure, you could just say like, Okay, let's show up and do some headshots And that's a very, very different thing. I mean, that headshots obviously are useful for a large number of things as well. It's a very different thing than, ah brand strategy around. Is it? Is it mostly entrepreneurs? When you spoke about black female women, is it mostly entrepreneurs for me, specifically, the people that I serve our they're experts at what they're doing, so they're making you know they're scaling their businesses and they're making close to six figures, if not seven figures, and they're also in the service based industry. So I don't shoot a ton of products, but I I serve female or women led businesses who are service providers. So they are, whatever their area of expertise, is there serving someone else by by doing their job. And you've you've mentioned the word ministry. You've mentioned the word service number of times. I think I was listening to you in another podcast where you talked about having experience in customer service as well, you know, from from from previous work. And so I think that's a beautiful thing, then, that you are choosing to work with women who are doing something similar in different ways. It to talk to me about that aspect of of service a little bit more in your life and like going back thio Mecca as a child Or, you know, just like has that always been something that's been important to you. So that kind of brings me to tears. And I really love um, talking about that because I grew up next door to a church that we attended my family, Um and I grew up serving. I grew up doing being in different ministries and and kind of being told, you know, the areas of church that I'm gonna be serving in this weekend and and doing different things. And my family, you know, really big. Giving people really big fan coming really big family. Everyone just has, you know, heart for God and helping others and giving on DSO I learned to serve others growing up and through church. Then when I first got my I got my first jobs as a teenager. They were, you know, working out. You worked at an ice cream parlor. I sold sneakers. I worked in retail stores. I physically serve food in college. So I believe that you know all those years where I couldn't really figure out what I wanted to do professionally. And that's something I really struggled with for a long time, even through college. I really believe that God was developing me for this time in my life right now because what I do, I feel that I'm serving. I feel that what I do is my ministry, like I said, and it comes from a really special place. I have ah heart for helping others be them their best Selves. And I tell people all the time While I love photography, I really do. I really enjoy it, you know? I believe that God can call me to something else and I'd be Justus great in it. So photography is just the medium that I served through right now it's Ah well, it's a beautiful thing. And thank you for taking us back Thio, you know, Thio childhood and also just how it's. It's an interesting nuance that photography happens to be the, uh the thing that it's going through, but that there's this sort of deeper meaning and purpose. So let's go back. Thio, you mentioned journalism So let's go back Thio how we ended up at photography being nothing you also mentioned I know you're a wedding photographer before and so many people out there you know, when we start our photography businesses where, like do I want to do portrait? So I want to do babies. Do I want to do weddings? Eso take us through your journey? Eso When I graduated from high school, I wanted to be Oprah. Oprah was ending her show, so I of course, went to school. You could not tell me that I wasn't gonna be on the news and I wasn't gonna have my own talk show one day. But then I got to college and I absolutely hated it on. And, you know, I get jealous of the students now because you know, everything so precise and compact. But back then, the hard drives were, you know, this big and they were heavy, and we had to love our camera equipment and our computers and things around, and I just did not like the process of being in front of the camera. However, I did really enjoy the behind the scenes. The production aspect of it, and I also really enjoy writing and writing has been something that I've done since I was little girl. I've always journal I've always, you know, wrote creatively, so writing is a big passion of mine as well. Um, and so I ended up graduating with a degree in print journalism. But as course, I still have some background in television journalism journalism as well. And about a year after I graduated, I got a job at an ad agency as working at the front desk, and I ended up moving down here to Atlanta to help run the office down here. So I got to see all this creative work around me that was going on. And it just really fueled my passion, even Mawr, and really helped develop me as a visionary to and help me with the production and project management of the aspect of what it it requires you as a photographer. A swell. So that's interesting. So I because you grew up, we were talking earlier. You grew up in Pittsburgh. But that's what that's what brought you down. I was agency job itself. Okay, okay. And so So the journalism to then because you you do have a presence for for on screen. So it zits cool toe be ableto have to know that. But then also know that you enjoy, you know, on the behind the scenes to, um but So when did it flip thio weddings? Because I know I listen to something where you said, um, you know, you you didn't approach photography as a hobby. In the beginning, I was like, I'm going to do this as a business. Yeah, yeah. So I after graduating college, I could not get a job. It was it was 2000 and 12. There was just so much going on in my life that I was really struggling with. I was battling with depression. My parents had just split up. There was so much change that was going on in my life. And I just remember, like, praying to God like, Give me something toe love. Like I just wanted something to do, something to pass the time I had this degree, but I had no idea what to do with it. So I watched a few YouTube videos and I said the next day, You know what? I'm a sort of photography business. So my my boyfriend, who's not my husband, he had bought me a camera, for I had a blogger at the time called mechanisms, and, uh, he bought me a camera for it. And so one day, my my friend and I, we went out. We just took pictures, and I had no idea what I was doing. And simultaneously Instagram had just come out and I took these pictures of my girlfriend Jessica, and I just remember being so in love with them. So fast forward I started posting the pictures that I would take off my friends and my family on my instagram, and a wedding planner in Pittsburgh reached out to me to do some things for her. And before you know, she's like, Mike, I have a wedding for you. You're gonna charge this? You're gonna find Go. Uh, that's not really how I got. I had never been to a wedding before. I had never seen a wedding before. I tell you everything that I learned about weddings. I learned from, like, researching other people's blog's getting on creative live, watching some of the videos about what a wedding day really looks like. And I was I was telling you guys about that before, like, creative live with such, ah, huge part of the beginning part of my journey as a wedding photographer. I had no experience with weddings. Um, but I just I went full force and I tell people all the time when they're starting, you're either gonna love weddings or you're not. And you usually know that first time that you do a wedding, whether or not it's for you. But I wanted more. I love I love the action. I love the adventure. I love the fast pace of the day. So that's how I got started on wedding. So I really didn't understand the rial the niche of you know what photography was. I started doing everything, but of course, weddings were my bread and butter. I think it's so funny, though, because it is like the fact that you had never been to a wedding and you're going to shoot a wedding its's. But that's the thing. It seems as though you know so many people out there. You just you can't wait until you have all of the experience to say yes to things because that's that Catch 22. Like, how do you get a job without that particular experience? Whereas, you know, you have to just get out there and do, uh And so So what was it then that went from OK, I'm enjoying being a wedding photographer. Thio. I'm not really enjoying this anymore. Or what was the was there? Were there moments where it was? Was it the business part? Was that the photography part? Because again a lot of people are can end up in the same boat. Great question. So I had good and bad problems. The good problem. Waas. I was getting booked. You know, everybody, I have had a lot of enquiries. People wanted toe work with me. I was booking multiple weddings per month. I was making great money. The bad part about it was my personal life was suffering. I wasn't, You know, being a good partner didn't have friends anymore. I couldn't even tell you. The last time I hung out with my friends, I had gained over £40 in one year, my health was declining. I was tired. My body hurt. There was I just found myself complaining. I didn't feel like myself anymore. And there wasn't any real balance in my life. And I just wasn't happy. Like, Yes, I was making money. Yes, I was being recognized on platforms and my photos were being featured. But I just wasn't happy to be completely honest with you. And, um so I took some time off. I talked about three months off after one year going into the following year. I took that first quarter off just because I just really wanted to, um, revision What? I wanted my business in my life to look like, and I just really felt like Okay, this is gonna be my last year shooting weddings, and I did on fake, like, I really didn't know what was next. I just know I couldn't go into one more year of feeling this way all the time. And so I said, This is my last year of doing weddings. I started telling cleaners like I wasn't looking anymore weddings and everyone's like So what are you going to do? And I was like, I don't know, I'll figure it out But, um, at the same time to I just really just started feeling in my spirit, like I want to shoot women. I want to shoot women service providers. And so I started doing just that, and I called it business, Lifestyle, business, lifestyle. It's brilliant. Um, I want to acknowledge and I mean, I think it's It is so brave Thio recognize when you're not happy And, of course, there's always thes, you know, signs. Whether it's I feel lethargic, I've gained weight, you know, I've you know, I'm just I just don't feel well, even though there's money coming in the bank, I'm not talking Thio. You know my friends anymore, like those realizations of like Wait, what am I doing? Uh, and but the acknowledgment to move forward and let go of these things. That was probably at least because I'm resonate with this experience of of, um, having to kind of say, I need a break on and and allowing yourself to do that I I was looking at your blogged, and it was a post that was about my self care secrets for photography business owners March 3rd, we're now in 2020. So march 3rd of is, um right when stuff was hitting the fan. And and so I think it's so interesting that you were at that moment really so self aware about the things that you needed to be doing, you know, for yourself and then putting that out there for other people. So what of these? Like how? What have you been doing for the last nine months? To be able thio, um, to continue that you know that that self care through, you know what happened with your business? Like what? You know how. How has it been going? So before I answer that question, I do want to make mentioned that when I wrote that post, I remember sitting in this very room it was dark. It was like six o'clock in the morning when I started writing that I had just completely rebranded. I had just published a new website. I had just taking weddings and everything else off of my website, so I was terrified. However, I knew, like I said before that I could not go through another year of feeling the way I was feeling. So that was kind of me sharing what I had known so far in the piece that I had about the direction that my life was heading at that point. You know, we I was getting ready to do my my Porter Street workshop, which is one of my workshops that I do for photographers. There were so many things that are better on the line. And then all my plans got cut short with the pandemic. So, um, I went three months without getting paid. It was it was tough, like many people, I but at the same time, I still declared victory over my life. Like I knew it was so strong in my heart that what I was called to do was goingto happen, that I didn't let my faith waver at all. So my husband and I you know, we waited the waters through the pandemic. He's a deejay, too. So we're both service providers who aren't, you know, working right now. But, you know, he made it through. And then as soon as you know the restrictions lifted, I was able to get raped back toe work and knowing that most people would be operating on online spaces, I made it my business to begin really marketing my expertise and what I knew about the direction that I was heading heavily. So I started offering advice. I started helping helping, offering helpful tips. I started adding value to the to my audience, the value that I knew that they needed also to move forward within the areas that I could serve them as well. So since we, we've been able to go back outside again, I have been working, and this year, you know, has just been the biggest display of, you know, God's favorite over my life. I I really like I said before, I really, truly feel called to do what I am doing, and I can't take any credit for it. I just feel like all these years leading up to this has has brought me here. Um, so we are, like, right now we're actually in our last week of working over here, so you can I can give everybody some time off for the holidays, but, um, it's been a beautiful blessed year. Andi, I'm very honored to be ableto help people show up visually in their in their respective expertise. Well, I think it's I mean, it's a beautiful thing that it waas it. Perfect timing. E mean, you know, like you said, divine timing in terms off. Um, you're all of a sudden everybody needs to pivot to online if there, you know, and especially the growth of continued growth of online service businesses or just, you know, online education, like whatever it is where, especially when people aren't able to see people face to face, is much in person. And all of a sudden, um, you know, it becomes even even that much more important. And so, um, Thio for you to have been prepped and ready and just relaunch or what have you is, uh and then I mean, I just really appreciate your ability. Thio sit here and say, like, 2020 was a great you know, like I a lot of great things happen because it's that glass, half full mentality. What do you think? What do your clients tell you that they're drawn to? And you? Because you've done a lot of work on what is my brand, you know, And there's the There's the like What do you think you are? But then there's the How important is it Thio? Understand what people are seeing in you because it's hard to look at ourselves sometimes? Absolutely. Um so the biggest compliment I get from prospective clients or people looking toe work with me is that my ability to tell stories visually, my ability to capture joy and the color and Christmas of my images, but most specifically the way I shoot and edit brown women. Um, And so knowing that I tried to produce to produce more of that, tell me, Talk to me about the joy factor. Talk to me about black joy about women and joy and how, especially this year, how important the focus on that for you has been absolutely, um, as a black creative as a black photographer. My work is so important right now. Um, and again because people are showing up online in their in their their specific areas. It's really important that I tell their stories accurately, and I show who they are accurately. And when I talked to people on the phone, I kind of take them back and even me thinking about my great grandmother, my grandmother, some older portrait that I've seen. We don't have too many pictures of black women specifically looking happy or being joyful or or showing that they're wealthy or two showing any type of happiness or joy. And so that's something that I specifically work really hard to show them. Smiling them, laughing them, operating in an abundance from living fully them, celebrating different things and really operating in their joy. So, um, that's that's a really important aspect to my work. And where do you find joy? Oh, I love to read. I love to hang out with my friends. I love anything funny comedies, laughter, funny movies. My husband is hilarious, spending time with my family, my dog, all types of different things. I like to think of myself as a really simple person. Why simple? Simple? Because I'm able. I believe that I'm able to recognize the beauty in some of the smallest things, just being in someone's presence and especially after this year, understanding that people aren't around for forever. So just really making memories, like with my with my friends and family, especially right now, Um, just really enjoying You know how funny my dog is? Um, just the simple pleasures, the simple pleasures of life. I think that that's what one of the main things this year has done for a lot of us is you know, you're forced to look at who you are fundamentally, because there's when they're still distractions. But a day our day to day is just different. You know, it's different. And so what have you Is there something that has surprised you that you've learned about yourself this year throughout all this? Yeah, this is gonna sound very vulnerable. But one of the things that I learned about myself this year was how important forgiveness is and the the people that I needed to forgive or people I needed to ask for forgiveness from, um and just really let go of anything that it's separating me from having a relationship with people. I've done a lot of work on myself personally, just to have, you know, any type of heaviness lifted in my relationships with people, whether you know, they'd be family or people that I've met in passing. Um, but I recognized, you know, earlier this summer, just after, you know, we spent so much time in the house by ourselves. Um, I just really recognize that forgiveness was a huge thing for me this year. I had to forgive people that I didn't even know I was mad at that. I was just holding on two things about and again. Life is just too short to just be angry on DSO. It's important that we share our grievances and learn how to better communicate with each other. Um, you know, if there's any types of misunderstandings, let's let's use our words and and talk those things out with one another, such an important lesson. And I feel as though, like you said, I was realizing that I need to forgive people that I didn't even realize, you know, that that needed to happen. So two things like this concept of of forgiveness, of others, there's forgiveness of self on, then the communication factor as well. And so what about forgiveness of self? For you who were getting deep here? We're getting deep. I'm prepared to go here, but we I'm totally fine with that. Um, for me, you know, for me, I personally battled with, for example, I use this as an example. Um, I started a group coaching program this year. I sat on that idea, you know, for months I almost didn't release it. It took a lot of work to even be able to produce that and put that out in the world. There were bad things I would say to myself, and I don't I won't say bad. I would say they're not nice. Things mean things, unhealthy things that I would say to myself any time I go out and the imposter syndrome that so many of us face any time it's time to go out and do new things and trying new things and be a beginner at anything, you know, we tell ourselves that we can't do it. I had to forgive myself for time loss for not putting those things out into the universe or, um, any time that I wanted to do something like I've been wanting. I've been wanting to start a podcast for years, okay? And I keep talking myself out of it and and telling me I can't do it and there's so many other podcasts and things out there. But the main things that I would say to myself, I really had toe do that work and and start fresh and keep and find the strength of just really keep going. So that is really those are the areas and I still worked through. And I still try to to do the work necessary to keep going in and and to keep moving on, Thank you for for sharing, because I it is, um, you do have to like you said the forgiveness self forgiven of self forgiveness of others. It's and it's constant. Like you said, like it's, um there's so many things out there that I should do this. I should do that, you know? And until we take a moment to pause and say, You can't do it all in one day, but be like you just when the time is right, it's right. And to your point of earlier of talking about, you know, I didn't know photography would be the thing, but, you know, here we are and shifting from weddings to branding, and it just, you know, it's to continuing. Thio have that that trust and faith, you know that. But it doesn't mean you're not gonna, you know, question it. And you know all of those things that we do to ourselves. You you mentioned imposter syndrome. Um, and you talk to me then about creating this coaching program because I would imagine that you have to get a point to a point that you are confident. What I was seeing was like, Oh, she got that. You make a got to a point where she was so confident in what she was able to do for her own business, that it was like, Oh, let me let me share that and and let other people know how how I did that. But there's always still the moment where, like, who am I? Thio do this. So how do you manage through that? To where? I mean, I just I impressed that you've got your program trademarked. I'm like, that's legit, you know, like I just eso So take me to the release of that. And what the response is that, Ben. And does that, like, help you move forward? So this this group coaching program has been on my eyes have been on my heart started at the course, so it's been on my heart for over a year. Um and of course, like I know the stuff. But being able to teach it is something completely different. So I'm still in beta with my group, but it's the first time I've done it. I'm still working out the kinks. I'm still becoming a better leader in a better coach on a better educator. So the people that are in the program right now I'm I'm so appreciative of them because they trust me with their next level. So that's that. But, um, it took me some time to really kind of fight through those emotions because I'm I'm type A B, you know, like I'm a you know, we're gonna do this and let's go with the flow. But at the same time, I'm not necessarily a perfectionist, but I appreciate when things are done correctly and then when you know, you know, the next step. So the way that I got that out is one I got help, so I didn't know how to do it. And I didn't know how to structure it. It structure it. So I have a coach that I work with and then from working with my coach, I also have a support of other female entrepreneurs who kind of helped me walk through the daily emotions in the process of, you know, putting something that is so personal to you out into the world. So having the support of people, you know, like, okay, change this, you can do this, right? But you got it. You know your stuff, having that constant support. It's a super, you know, super helpful for me. And so that's why I get coached. Which is why I believe in coaching so much. And which is why I believe and community so much because community is so important. People don't. People don't realize how important community is. And I know I'm kind of kind of going off your question here, but I don't think I'd still be a photographer if I didn't have a community of other women photographers specifically who helped see me through the next level or you know, because they understood they They're not my friends, you know where my style. So they knew exactly what I was dealing with. And it is because I had that community to keep going and to keep trying. I think that the reason One of the reasons why I'm still here doing what it is that I love. I think that the we often we teach, we teach what we most need toe learn. And so once we're like pouring our heart in tow learning something, then we've learned it so much that we can, you know, turn around and teach it so and and to be able to understand what the students are. And I know you, you talk about always learning. So it's the same thing. I think with that mentoring thing, like the fact that you have a coach means that you can understand what it is to be coached, which means that you know, and not everybody has had that experience. So you package that you put your brand on it and you know, and combine that with the confidence in the community and you do it. It's like the doing part that I think holds a lot of people back. And eso I wanted thio go more into the picture yourself profitable. What is it about the profitability aspect? I know I was listening to again another podcast that you are on where you were talking about one of the businesses challenges that you had earlier on waas. That sort of becoming profitable to a point of, like, sustaining a full time business. So is that what the coaching program is about or why? Why? Profitable? So let's be honest whenever we're and then only because we're photographers. And so I'm going to speak specifically to photographers. Right when we're for starting our photography businesses, you make your prices up, okay? You you don't know. Not too many of us know too much about business. And then you kind of look to your left and you look to your right and you see what other people in your area charging or you're looking and seeing what your faith they're charging. And you're like, Okay, I'm gonna be a little bit less than that. They've been doing it longer than meet her. Work is better than my or I'm better than them. I'm gonna charge a little bit more than them. So you're kind of really basing your prices off of false both places. Right? So when I first started, um and I really kind of got in the group of shooting more consistently. I was charging $300. I was editing everything. I was really touching everything. I was doing all of this work. And then one day I really took a look at the numbers and I was like, There is no way I could be a full time photographer. This is not sustainable. But I didn't see anybody else teaching how to do it. You know, no one at that time was showing us how to actually make money as a photographer. Yeah, You could go out and get booked. Yeah. People were teaching how to edit people were teaching how to shoot. But if you are going to do this for the long game, if you're gonna really do this and actually make a really living off of this, I couldn't find anybody at the time to do it. So I kind of promised myself like once I really understand the photography business. Once I learned the photography business, I'm going to help other people, um, learn it and I'm going to teach. It is well, so when I after I went full time, I started. When I went full time, I hired a somebody to do my book. So hired a bookkeeper. So from hiring a bookkeeper in having monthly meetings and quarterly meetings and seeing how the numbers work, I said, Okay, I understand this a little bit better understand my prices and how to charge on. But when we got to the point where we switched over from weddings and went into brand, I understood that I would have to be a premium service provider because there's no way that I could offer low, low rate, uh, services and still make a full time living and, you know, have a team in scale and do all these different things. Um, so it was a mindset shift like, let's be honest, it is a mindset shift from going from seeing what other people are charging and really understanding and knowing your numbers on what you need. And so in that middle part is like the area that I really like to help people and work with people and understanding that it is a how important it is to communicate your value to your audience. Because if they can see the value of what you're offering to them, you could charge whatever it is that you wanna charge as a photographer. It's not about the price. It's about understanding who it is that you're serving and understanding the value, um, that you're providing for them and actually executing on it. I mean, those air, all the all the things right, including the executing on it in the end, because especially when you're in a service based business and referrals are, you know, huge and word of mouth and all of these things, like it's it's the whole package. When did you realize that your value like, was there a moment? Was there a client where's there? Or just because going back to that, um, this imposter syndrome and ah, lot of us. A lot of women, you know, have a hard time valuing ourselves, and then you have to put a dollar sign on something So $300 Thio, you know, now working as a premium provider, what was that journey for you? So, to be completely honest, with you. My ah ha moment came that same year that I was experiencing burnout and I knew that it was coming to an end for weddings. For me here I waas like, Yes, I had made six figures as a wedding photographer. However, at the end of that year, I had nothing to show for it. I had no savings. I had no investments. I had. I was just I was literally living paycheck to paycheck. So I had invested all this time all this energy I had sacrificed so much I had stayed up all these late nights and I had nothing like nothing tangible to show for it. And here I was. I wanted to buy your car. I wanted toe by a home. I wanted to do all of these things, But the way I was, the way I was structuring my business wasn't sustainable. Eso that following year. That's when, in 2019, I started really, really taking, um, 2018 and 19. I started really taking my finances serious and started better understanding my numbers so that I could begin to save money. So that was my first step. I said, Okay, I just wanna say start saving money. And if I can save money, then I could take that money that I saved and keep investing in my business. And it worked. And it works. Yes. I mean, I think that this the realization of the value that you have and that it's not gonna, you know, just that it's not gonna work if you're just going down one particular path that you're giving stuff away And it does take a mindset. Shift Onda often like you're sharing. Um, and it takes hitting a low point to be able to then see what? What isn't working. Um, and I'm curious what you have learned from the people that are in your program or your coaching program. And what Because oftentimes as educators or, you know, with community like you're learning Justus much from people, as as is part of that, So is there. Is there something that you've recently learned that you're implementing from learning from others? So that's a really, really great question. I think the biggest thing, um, that I'm learning, you know, as and and it's kind of hard for me to call myself an educator eso I'm I'm shifting into that imposter syndrome. I know. I know. S o I as an educator. One of the biggest things that I'm learning is that people's progress takes time and everybody is going to be different. So there's a level of patients that comes along with being an educator, being a coach, operating in a space where you help other people meet their goals as well. There is a level of patients that comes with that because everyone is going to be different. Um, and the one thing that I have learned just from doing this group coaching program from doing the workshop from doing one on one is about language and how you teach things and how you say things in the messaging because everybody doesn't learn the same way. So I'm learning how to represent a lot of the way I kind of learn in my head and get all of that out and then teaching in the way that others can can learn and digest and understand that I'm one of those people who I'm a big relationship person. Um, I I like being friends, you know, with a lot of my students. I like, really knowing them personally. I really like understanding. Okay. Yeah, I know you're here for photography services, but what's what's really holding you back from reaching your goals? Like I I kind of like to get that deep with them and really go through those mindset shift. So one of the biggest things that I'm learning right now is that level of patients, patients, onda language and just learning how to have a better understanding of what they're really and recognize. I have a better understanding and recognize what their real needs are. I feel like that's kind of a specialty of yours, though, is like, whatever the scenario is is then like, Okay, what are the needs? And then how can I serve and deliver? Um and so you're, you know, doing it for the photographers or, you know, for your clients and and then for photographers, and it all kind of just and for yourself. And then it all sort of comes together. Tell me about your other creed of our you know, things. Maybe it's from earlier on. I read something about your nails and, um, having gone thio have a gun to nail school. Like what? What are the things outside of photography, like creatively that that that let you up? Okay, so I'm the nail thing again. Like I went to school for journalism. I've always been created my entire life. I just couldn't figure out what it was. And so, of course, it's one of the reasons why it's so important for me to show up. Because had I known about photography as a child and understood that it was a profitable, viable business, I probably would have pursued it a long time ago. But during college, I was working out of jail. I mean, at a hair salon. I was the the receptionist and they needed a nail person. And so I said, Okay, I'll go to nail school and I went to nail school and I hated it s so when we hated it. But I love funky, cool colored nails. I love fun design. I haven't got my nails done this year because of the pandemic yet, but that's one of my things, too. I like to have, you know, bright, colorful nails, but yeah, I did spend some time in beauty school learning how to be a nail tech that clearly wasn't not my ministry, but that was just one of the ways that I wanted to really get gain some type of creative creative outlet. Um, but then, of course, later on I found photography. But outside of outside of photography, I love to read. I am a bookworm. I love to read. I love art. My husband and I would like to go out to the museum and look at the the art. I love music. I love music. I'm one of those people who I am a human jukebox, especially with music from the nineties. Yes, so, like anything like nineties R and B hip hop, we could definitely go head to head and challenge on that. I was like the girl in high school who always had the best mix CDs that everyone stole out of her car. That was me, But eso music reading Are those those air? Those are my things, and I just really, really love to spend time with people that I love and your husband's a. D J. Yes, correct. E had to like, tell him before I got on here, I was like, There's no music where so we listen to music all day around here. Yeah, well, I'm not going to try to go head to head with you, that's for sure. I'm I I appreciate, but, uh, I don't know. There's something about my brain. Doesn't My brain doesn't work in them remembering names and movie lyrics and, um, our movie quotes. And it's just it's funny how our how our brains work in different ways. Uh huh. Of child of the child of the eighties, Um, MTV. I mean, I was again, like listening Thio thio this other podcast that you are on and can, you know, envisioning the bright colors is that kind of where the birth of the bright colors is for you? So yeah, I have always just been a colorful person. You know, my the people closest to me. Um, just like cousins and friends that I grew up with all my life, you know, always told me I had to be different and that was me. If everyone's doing the red thing, I'm doing the red, blue and yellow thing s. Oh, that's just that's just always been the colorful NUS has just always been a part of my personality. And so when I started developing my brand. So first of all, I really didn't understand. I had been building a brand for years. I really didn't too much understand what a personal brand. What? It was just so important to me that I was myself and that I communicated that to other people. So when all the colors came into play is really the colorful nous of my photography. And so I wanted a way to represent that and still be different and stand out. Um, you know, amongst the crowd. So that's where that came from. But I love color. My favorite color is actually fuchsia. I know it's a different everyone else will probably name. My favorite color is fuchsia on guy love. No pinks and purples and things, but I just I love different color. Does it give you an emotional reaction or I find color fascinating and and that different colors can have different meanings. I mean again, like you are very joyous, Um, and and like said people, person, all of that. Do you like your brain like when you look at certain colors? Did they give you, you know, feelings versus other colors that you know Oh, absolutely. The colorful color theory thing. Israel. And it's something that, you know really plays a part when I'm planning sessions with clients, Um, you know, their brand colors have a lot to do with everything. You know, the locations that we should be aesthetic, the feel, the vibe, all of that really plays in kind of intertwines with one another. Whenever you know we're creating, um, photography project. But yeah, I've always been drawn to just weird, funky fun colors. I believe that like you know, for example. Yellow, of course, is happiness. Green is serene and joyful and blue and purple a royal. I love the color theory, and I really think it has a lot to do with how you feel about a certain image when you see it absolutely, and and and I think it's interesting to go through, you know, again, you're talking about all the planning that goes into you're helping women figure out what what all those pieces are. What do you think is the thing that most people struggle with when they're trying? Thio. I mean, I think it's really interesting for you to be able to say I realized later that I had been building my brand for all this time without having been able to name that. And so you know what is kind of the biggest hurdle that you find women have or people have when trying thio, um, to put be their brand themselves, their messaging. Without a doubt, it's their messaging. I find that a lot of people struggle with what to say to their audience or, you know, what am I going to talk about or what's the caption gonna be? Or I don't. You know, the messaging part is is really the core of everything that you create about around your brand, and it's important to decide early on what you know what's off limits. What are you gonna talk about? What are the things that you're not going to talk about? We call them. We have a term for the now the cop killers, you know. But what? You're pillars. They're going to be like, What message are you gonna send to your audience? How are you going to show up for them? What are they going to know about you now? I'm pretty much open book, but of course, you know there's things that I prefer not to share, and that's fine. And the other people can do the same thing. You know, you don't have to feel inclined to share everything about you, however, what it is, Whatever it is that you do share, it's important that it's consistent and that you're speaking to a target audience or the correct audience which going going back to when I was, you know, again read your very succinct sort of statement as to who you are because you've been able thio narrow it down to you know who you are, who you're serving so that you know what they can dio Um So what is it, then? That, um you see? Okay, so, messaging, one of the things that people have trouble with Is it also tell me about where you was there a time where you are trying to kind of be everything to everyone and again for branding. A lot of times, it's like you gotta be able Thio Thio, identify your target. Um, so we've talked about your target, but what did it take to get to that point and to let go of like, I gotta be everything to everyone. Yeah, there's a certain level of vulnerability that is required. Whenever you're going to make yourself in the face of your business or decide that you're going to create a personal brand, right, there's a there's a certain level of vulnerability. There's a there's authenticity involved, and you really have to know who you are and be comfortable with sharing some of the parts that you know you typically don't don't share with other people. So, like I said before, you don't have to let everyone into everything but the things that you are comfortable with sharing. It's important that you be open and honest with those, because the whole purpose of this, the whole purpose of why we're creating purpose, personal brands and the whole reason why we're putting ourselves out there is to be of service to somebody else and to help other people with their pain points. So I find my mission and education because I know that there's other photographers out there who have who are where I have been, and I am able to help them through my experiences. If there's somebody out there who is a nutritionist that you know might have has overcome some sort of some nutritional or eating thing, and somebody out there might need their assistance. Um, it's important that, you know, they show up authentically online so that that person could get help for them. So that's why it's so important for us to get online and tell our stories and be authentic and share our experiences with one another, because there is somebody out there who needs our help to. It's a beautiful way to phrase that again, because it is going back. Thio sort of the giving aspect and on. And when you think about it as to what you know what, it's how it's helping other people versus, you know, putting it just on yourself, I guess, is the way to reframe and you know, toe have that intention and purpose and what it it was. I was really glad that you said like, Well, let's take a step back and like, What is it that we're doing here with the personal brand? Like, What is the purpose? Um and so so coming back around to that and keeping that intention always in mind, I think is is so important a one word that I wanted to kind of come and end on is because, as you were talking about, not only the clients that you work with, but then people that you're helping in other ways was the word trust. Talk to me about trust for yourself and your clients for helping people look at again. It's that authenticity. But does authenticity breed trust? Consistent authenticity, I believe reads trust when you are consistent about who you are, who you say you are in what in that you know, falls in line with what your actions are in what it is that you do. I think that breach trust, Um, I'm learning how to trust myself still that I believe that is an every day I'm gonna be an ongoing thing as a creative, you know, the trust that those internal visions to, uh, have an idea for something and then executed without any sort of handclaps or accolades or likes or comments. Just if I have an idea for something, I wanna put that idea into the world just because that vision, I believe, was a blessing to me toe execute. And you know, even if I might not receive any accolade tour it while I'm alive. Somebody else later on might see something and be inspired, inspired by it. So I believe that's creative. It's important. And I always talk about this as creatives. It's very important that we do not wait until we get paid to start doing our best work. If you have a vision for something, if there's something on your mind that are Ah ah, project that she's been wanting toe execute, you should go out and put that together and do that. You don't have to get paid. Thio execute the visions that are on your heart. Of course, getting paid is important, like we deserve to be compensated for for our work. But we are. We are artists first, and our art really helps people hell, I believe art brings people together. Um, art inspires creative action and creative thought. So it's important to put what's in our hearts and our minds out there into the world and beautifully said Mike, drop that guy. I absolutely love that, and it just comes back around Thio like you said the intention and purpose and, um and I just I love it. I love, you know, looking at what you're doing, and you can just see it is authentic and see it, um, in a way that again going back around to to being here, to help other people while while doing that yourself. So e wanna make sure mecca that everybody knows where they can find you, follow you, hire you, give us all the things All the places. Well, I'm on all platforms. Um, I love instagram Facebook. Twitter. I just recently joined clubhouse, so I'm everywhere at Mecca. Gamble Easy peasy e have not yet joined clubhouse I got There's so many things E no, I know I'm trying hard to keep up, but I'm doing my best and clipped on, so no, I haven't. Okay, come something completely different. I'm gonna ask one of my cousins or something to teach you how to use tick tock. But now I'm not on tick tock, but I'm on every other platforms. Awesome. Well, I just want to give some shout outs before we sign off. Mecca we have here a That was a great interview. Thank you for your transparency. Transparency? Uh, Natasha, Right, So good. Um, erase saying, Oh, I didn't know about that Nail Tech chapter L O l Delicious Brett Burton giving hands up Lisa tr Lisa saying Mecca is an amazing coach on and on and on and on. We had people tuning in from Barcelona. We had let me going back in time from Omaha, Chicago, all the places, um, and and Lisa again saying, Wow, the clarity of who and why you serve is awesome. And I think that's again going back toe to creating that personal brand if you can. If you can have that clarity and it might change. But that that is, um the way. Really? So you have that and so wonderful for us to have you on creativelive so we can share that with everyone. And they can continue Thio, follow you and learn and be inspired And all the things so thank you again. Mecca. Well, thank you, everybody, for tuning in to another episode of we are photographers. You can catch all the episodes we've got over 100 of them now creativelive dot com slash podcast or wherever it is that you subscribe to your podcast. You can also check out everything that is playing here on creative live TV. Whether that is interviews, performances and all kinds of greatness. In addition to, of course, the learning that we have here on Creativelive. So thank you again. Thio Mecca Gamble, McConnell. And we will see you all next time everyone here on creative life.

Class Description


Our weekly audio podcast We Are Photographers brings you true stories from behind the lens and behind the lives of your favorite photographers, filmmakers, and creative industry game-changers. From their struggles to their wins, host Kenna Klosterman discovers the real human stories about why they do what they do.

Listen to this and other audio episodes on our audio Podcast page.


In this episode, you’ll discover why photography is a ministry for Mecca and what led her to serve others as a life priority. Learn how brand photography can be an essential strategic asset for you and your clients. Mecca shares the importance of community to keep going through challenging times. With business and branding, she explains how it often takes getting it wrong multiple times before you get it right. Mecca explores the importance of forgiveness for personal growth and how consistent authenticity breeds trust.


Mecca Gamble McConnell is a sought-after brand photographer who creates strategic, compelling images for service-based entrepreneurs that help them tell their stories and communicate their expertise. She enjoys helping other photographers gain confidence, clarity, and build community through her 1:1 instruction, group coaching program Picture Yourself Profitable™, and hosting an annual retreat-style workshop, Porter Street. Her bold personality, style, and worth ethic have allowed her to stand out in her market and have her work published by popular mediums such as ESSENCE, Upscale, XoNecole, and The Knot.


Robin Spencer

I really enjoyed this interview, Mecca is very successful and does beautiful work. Check out her website for some real inspiration, also checkout her fees, that's a real eye opener and nice to see. Many of the free videos Creative Live offers are not great but this one is well worth your time. Can I make the suggestion that Kenna needs a better webcam the audio and picture quality is not great and a little distracting.

Adjanys Marrero Amador