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Creating Your Ideal Photography Business

Lesson 23 of 48

What Do You Want To Accomplish

Kathy Holcombe

Creating Your Ideal Photography Business

Kathy Holcombe

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Lesson Info

23. What Do You Want To Accomplish


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Class Introduction Duration:07:01
2 How To Price Your Products Duration:05:01
4 Methods For Pricing Duration:10:38
5 Mark Up Factors On Products Duration:05:46
6 What Is Your Per Hour Figure Duration:04:45
8 Target Sales Average Duration:08:04
11 Bundling Pricing Strategy Duration:25:47
12 Pre-Design Pricing Strategy Duration:10:33
13 Album Pricing Strategies Duration:10:33
14 Example Pricing List Duration:17:33
15 Business Basics Overview Duration:07:07
17 Track Your Session Counts Duration:07:19
18 Know Your Sales Average Duration:06:41
19 Importance Of Data Analysis Duration:10:14
20 Overview Of Costs Duration:13:46
23 What Do You Want To Accomplish Duration:13:31
24 Take A Leap Of Faith Duration:20:19
25 Refine Your Vision Duration:12:44
26 Products That Sell Duration:07:48
27 Identify Pricing Strategies Duration:03:03
29 Album Pricing Strategy Example Duration:09:21
33 Sales Strategies Overview Duration:05:45
38 Album Pre-Design Duration:18:51
39 Marketing: Define Yourself Duration:12:55
40 Who is Your Ideal Client? Duration:05:12
41 Who is Your Ideal Partner? Duration:03:27
43 Marketing Strategies that Work Duration:17:10

Lesson Info

What Do You Want To Accomplish

What this book helped us do was get to the essence of what was really, really important for us. So, we wrote down what we wanted to accomplish and then we got to the heart of everything, which was, we wanted a family. We knew that was a for sure. We knew that we wanted to have time for adventure, that that was so critical to who we were to go out into the unknown and have these experiences. That was the second one. And we knew that we wanted to do rewarding work. It was a little, we weren't quite sure exactly what that was, but we knew we wanted to make a difference somehow. So, we came up with a game plan. Peter let his boss know, he turned in his notice, and I will let him take it from there on how that transpired. So, we came back from that trip. It's a great time in Yosemite, I just love it. Y'all should go. And it was like, whoa, it's on. I've got to give my two weeks notice and what's gonna happen? It's a big time of uncertainty. So I went in, I talked to my boss. She was amazi...

ng, really cool. And at first, it was kind of like, okay. Well I guess this is your two weeks and we'll see you around. And then, a couple days went by, and she was gracious enough to come up and say, hey, you're doing a lot of good work here and we could definitely use the help. Why don't we kind of do this a little more flexible in that you can stay and work as long as you need to, or you have openings, and if you're not shooting for yourself, come in and work for me? I said, wow really, you'll let me do that? That's incredible. So, that, I'm still grateful to this day for that opportunity because that really eased us financially into working for someone else to working for myself. And that went on for maybe three months, and then I got so busy that I wasn't really coming in there anymore and it was, the switch was made. But in that process, even before that process, I was shooting a lot of freelance stuff. I was doing some weddings on the side. I was doing a few portrait sessions on the side. Taking a lot of stuff that I'd learned there and kind of doing smaller jobs on my own. But in that process of making the transition, I probably went 80 days without a single day off. And I mean, that was unusual for me. I'm the guy who loves to be up in the mountains all the time, doing all this stuff. And so, it clearly became obvious in that timeframe that I couldn't take every job that came through the door, like I had been. I needed to really focus on one thing, do it really well, make that my niche, and build my business that way. So, I wanted that to be photographing in the mountains. I wanted to do portraiture of some form, and then we kind of reeled it in to focusing on shooting weddings, shooting engagements that came with the weddings, which I really love doing those, doing high school seniors, which are a blast, and family portraits, and that sort of thing. But my niche, what made me different than all our competition was as a climber and as an outdoors person, I took people to all these beautiful places that I knew about that maybe my competition didn't. And so, sometimes that was tough for my clients because I was hiking them in for 20, 30 minutes into some of these really remote locations, not really remote but remote locations, and doing these photo shoots back in there. And that was great for me, I loved that. And my work was starting to get attention because it was unlike what everybody else was doing, where they were shooting, say like, downtown and shooting with the same wrought iron staircase in everybody's pictures. And it was awesome. So, we used that to basically form our business. What I want to show you next is a behind the scenes video from a typical high school senior portrait session for us. It's a little video. This is on the side of a mountain at, well, it's a 14,000 foot mountain, but we're definitely above tree line. We're way up there. (upbeat music) Oh hey, Blair. Hey. How's it going? Good, how are you? Welcome to my studio. I love it, it looks great out here. You ever been up here? No. No? Okay, we're gonna have fun. There's a lot of cool things we can do here. I'm very excited. Okay, come on over here. We'll get started. Just like that and look back to me. Lean a little forward. Towards me, that's good. Love it. (upbeat music) That was awesome. We got some really great stuff. Let's see, so you have jeans and a dark top? Right. Let's change into that. And then we're gonna do some more stuff over here. Sounds good? Good. All right, cool. (upbeat music) Okay Blair, so this is gonna be cool. So, come up as high as you can. Maybe put your feet up on that rock in front of you. Lean back into the wall. Yeah, just like that. Come forward a little. Love that. Okay, good. Nice, soft smile. Oh yeah, good. That's gorgeous. Okay, let me see. (upbeat music) Let's go, here we go. (upbeat music) Just like that. Great. Okay, and look out this way. (upbeat music) Okay, I think we've got everything. (laughs) (upbeat music) ♪ Even if it kills you ♪ ♪ Turn it up, turn it up ♪ Stop there. Not a bad day in the office, right? (laughs) Can you see how those things that we defined as really critical to us, we were able to bring into this portrait business and this wedding business. We were able to have adventure. We were able to travel. We were able to be out in incredible places, doing the things that we loved. And we were able to make a great living while we did it. And it was extraordinary, we loved it. But for us, the joy is in the journey. And when you do the same thing for 10 years, even if it's incredible, it becomes stagnant. And so, we were really good at what we did and we were very successful at it, but we were stagnant. And that wasn't the rewarding work that we wanted. And so, we knew that there was more out there for us, but again, figuring out what that more is is the really hard part. And so, we went back to our notebook and we read through all the things that we wanted to accomplish. We went to what makes you happy, what makes you unhappy, what are your skills and talents. And over the span of 10 years, our skills and talents had changed dramatically. We had a whole new bag full of tricks. And so, we went back to the drawing board and we thought and we dreamed and we wrote it down and we tried to find the answer of what it was. But it wasn't quite clear. So, I'm gonna let Peter tell you a little bit about this lingering dream that just wouldn't leave us alone. So there's a photographer here in Seattle that, for a long time, has been inspirational to a lot of us, I think. And like everybody else, I'm always looking for motivation in different ways, and I came across his blog one day. And it was interesting. There was a quote on there that really resonated with me. I just want to read to you what it says. It says, "Find your thing and do that thing "better than anybody else does that thing. "If you think that thing has no value, "because I promise you that it does, "and I promise you that other people "will see the value too." Well, I was at a time, that was by Chase Jarvis here, so most of you guys know that name. That was at a time when I'm married to the photography business woman here, who was like, everything has to make sense, dollars and cents, literally. And so, taking time to do personal work was something I always did, but not on a major level. And I read this quote, and feeling a little stagnant, this gave me permission, if you will, to get out there and do some work that I've been dreaming about, but I hadn't taken the time to do. So I'm a whitewater kayaker, we all are. Can probably tell by a lot of our pictures here. There are people kayaking. And I'm fascinated with the light that you get in these canyons and off the water, and the interactions between the people and these wild places and each other. And I really wanted to photograph that stuff. And I couldn't see necessarily a commercial viability or a way to make money off of it. It was just something I wanted to do. And I was shooting it to a small scale, but I really wanted to go after it and photograph that more. I read this quote and I was like, I've got to do it. There might not be a value right now that I can see or anybody else can see, but I have a feeling in myself that it's all gonna work out. It's gonna go somewhere. So I started shooting as much whitewater kayaking as I can. I started meeting the best in the industry, the best kayakers and the companies that made the boats and the gear, and one thing led to another. People started seeing my Instagram and my website, that I was pushing out all these images that I was just passionate about. And people took notice, and it was awesome. And so I was like, wow, okay. Here we go, here's a whole new facet that we can do. Then we were coming back from a more traditional photo shoot. I think it was in the Canyon Country of Utah. We had a five hour drive back from Utah to Boulder. And as Cathy and I always do, we're driving down the road and we're dreaming. We're talking about what went good at this shoot, what we could've done better, da da da da, the list is endless. At one point, Cathy looks over and she's just kind of like, you know, we're spending a lot of time driving back and forth and I've got an idea for maybe how we could make more time in our life and really have more time to do the things we want to do. She said, what if we lived everywhere? What if home was everywhere? I was like, that's crazy. What do you mean by that? She's like, we live in Boulder, right? And she's like, what if we got an RV and we lived and based our whole business out of an RV and we went to do these shoots like we always do, which are a lot of driving. We go do our shoot and then we get to hang out in this awesome place. We don't have to go back to Boulder to mow the lawn, to do the laundry, to check the email, to do all the stuff that we always had to do that we felt like that's what you do, right? You're a photographer, you go back to your studio, then you go out again. Well I was like, wow, that's crazy. We built this business, we've got all this physical stuff that we've accumulated and this, it's really working. Well, that went on, that discussion went on for about a year. And she kind of started winning me over. And then, I don't know. It was, at one point I was like, gosh, there might be some merit to this. I don't, maybe people won't think we're crazy. Maybe all our clients won't ditch us when they see us living in an RV. And maybe this is something we could actually do. So, we did it.

Class Description

Join Kathy Holcombe as she shares techniques and strategies to develop the photography business you desire. Whether you’re making the leap from part-time to full-time or starting your very first business, the amount of work can be overwhelming. From what products to offer, how much to charge, how to pay yourself or the legal considerations - startups often sink before clients are even booked. Kathy will show you the ways to grow your business from the start. 

This class will cover: 

  • Defining what product you are selling and how much you should charge to make a living 
  • Photography business basics and how to track your income compared to other businesses 
  • How to write and create your business plan 
Kathy Holcombe and her husband Peter built one of the top wedding portrait studios in Colorado, then jumped in an RV with the entire family and began traveling the country full-time, and added a successful commercial division. Together they have built multiple successful businesses and have honed in on the important factors that every photographer should consider when building a business. 



I started my business a year ago with little formal technical photography education. It's hard to admit but I've been winging it, figuring out each small task that goes with photographing a session, editing one, and working with clients as I go. I may be doing things backwards, but now that I feel like I'm more comfortable in those small, specific parts of business, I need to figure out how to make this business sustainable and profitable. Kathy's class felt perfect for this time in my business to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of what I want to focus on and where I want to go (and how much I want to pay myself!). She uses realistic, specific numbers: something that's SO helpful and I feel like I rarely see in the photography community. And she breaks everything down in an organized and easy to understand way. The classes were easy to follow along with and Kathy's positivity and patient manner is inspiring and motivating. The fact that she used to be a school teacher is clear. Thank you so much Kathy (and the rest of the Holcombes)!

Jenny Farrell

I am so glad I was able to attend this course in person and receive all the wonderful and practical information Kathy shared with us. I also really enjoyed the connections with other audience members and side conversations with Creative Live peeps as well as the Holcombe family. What an inspiration this family is--lots of practical info, but also a great pep talk to not sell yourself short and get out there and do what you love, but use sound business practice while doing it. Thanks so much for these incredible two days.


Fantastic course! Very helpful instruction and how-to guide for anyone considering starting up a photography business. Kathy was an excellent instructor, with a wealth of knowledge and experience. I gained a good understanding of the practical everyday aspects of running this kind of business, and how to create my own vision.