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Portrait Startup

Lesson 14 of 35

Pricing Challenge and Valuing Yourself

Sue Bryce

Portrait Startup

Sue Bryce

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Lesson Info

14. Pricing Challenge and Valuing Yourself

Lesson Info

Pricing Challenge and Valuing Yourself

Now, when I talk about a la carte versus folio package, this is something that we need to clarify. It's like this, oh my goodness, I can't believe I have to say this. A v-flat is foam core. It's that thick, like seven mils, it has foam in the core. That's why it's called foam core. It's white on one side, if you buy at the art supply shop, but if you buy it at your local camera stores, it is white on one side and black on the other. It is the single source of absolute, most questions we get asked is, "Where do I get the foam core?" The polystyrene boards that I use have been used in the movie industry for a hundred years. They are made of polystyrene. They are not v-flats, they are poly boards. The poly boards you buy at Home Depot, it's insulation, yes, that might take a little bit of looking for, but here's the cool thing. There's this really cool thing called Google. It really works. Okay, now. A v-flat is something very different to a poly board. A v-flat is thin and foam core and ...

you can't paint it. A poly board is thick, 40 mils, polystyrene, you could paint it and wallpaper it. So don't get the two confused. Now, same thing with a la carte pricing versus folio packaging. Now, sometimes we don't want to ask a stupid question, and that's fine, it's not a stupid question. But you just need to understand what the difference is. A la carte is when you go into a restaurant, a French restaurant, usually, 'cause it's, the cart. And they bring out the cart and you can buy whatever you want on the cart. Okay, individually. Like most menus. And then you've gotta look at the folio packages being a tasting menu. It's predetermined, right from the start, that you're going to get an eight course meal for 95 dollars. That is the package. Now, this is where we need to make it abundantly clear which one we're going to own and how we're going to sell it. Now, every one of these photographers sitting in front of me just told you they do both. So they've probably confused the hell out of you, and let me break it down, this is really really simple, it comes down to this. This is my original pricelist. This has been my original pricelist since I was 18 years old working in a portrait studio in New Zealand. A six by eight was 190 dollars, an eight by 12 was 295, an 11 16 was 450, a 16 24 was 645, a 24 by 36 was 875, a 30 by 45 was 1,200 dollars. Now, a la carte says I either get a free shoot, or I pay for the shoot, and then I come into the viewing and I buy images based on how many I want. So let's say I buy a six by eight, an eight by 12, and an 11 16, do the math. 695, 745, 845, 935, that's 935 dollars for three photographs, thank you very much Mrs. Adams. Now, that is called a la carte selling. And what happened was, your range could go anywhere from I'm buying one six by eight, to I'm buying seven 30 45's. I did sell seven 30 45's to a client, okay, and I'm talking in 1995. Seven, 30 45's, 1,200 each. Now, the average you're going to get is based on how many clients you shot versus your total income divided by the amount of clients that you've photographed. Most people cannot comprehend that. Two things happen. The first question a photographer will ask me is, what if they don't buy anything? What if the sun doesn't come up tomorrow? You're in business. That is the odds and numbers game of being in business. Some people will not buy anything, but you don't cry about it, you work out what you did wrong, you pick yourself up, you give better service, better product, next time. Then the next person comes and spends 4500 dollars and you're elated, you're crying, cha-ching, you ring your husband, you ring you best friend, you ring your wife, whatever, and you're like, woo hoo, 4500 dollars! And then you go and do the one stupidest thing you could do, you go and spend it. 'Cause now I can buy this. And then you go out, you spend the 4500 dollars, and the next client comes in, buys the six by eight for 119 dollars, you've only paid your makeup artist with that, and you've got nothing. And the ebb and flow of your income is very consistently low. So the smartest people in money, the smartest people in business, sorry, know how to save their money. They know that an average income is based on revenue, not on money in your hot little hand. Secondly, if you're in debt, and you get that big sale, what's gonna happen to that money? It's gonna go to your debt and instantly it's going to be consumed by your debt. Then you've got two struggles, you've got no money to market yourself and you've got no money in your savings account for tax. 90 percent of people get to their first year in business and they haven't saved their tax. And it's frightening. Alright, that is a la carte. That is the a la carte dread. Let's talk about the a la carte gift. You can buy anything on there. So, your average sale is based on your total sales divided by the amount of people that you photograph. So, your whole job is to save that money and up that average. Now, if you're selling packages, this guy's gonna make more money than you. But it's not safe. There's no safety here. But there is no safety in any business. There's no safety in your job. You go along to your job, you get your 800 dollars a week, and you think it's gonna be there next week, and you live week by week. And then you wake up one day, you go to work and you get fired. Where's the security? There is no security there. Okay, so the biggest thing you need to wrap your head around, your head space around, is there is no security there. But there is no security in anything. It's so such a superficial fake thing that that corporate income is gonna be there, week in and week out. 'Cause it's not. And you know the market can crash overnight, a meteor could fall down and hit your office building, there's a million things that can go wrong, and you think you're safe? And then you're swimming naked, and the tide's gone out. And it's suddenly like, ooh! Okay, so, I didn't know how to save money. So now we're in the night theory of mastery, which is money management. And I got a business partner that taught me how to save money. She was so tight, it was watertight. She wouldn't even let me buy a coffee on my business card. She was like, "You want coffee? "You buy the coffee." I was like, really, that's harsh, I worked so hard for this money, and she was like, "Yeah, and it's staying in there." And that's why, when we hit 2008, we had a lot of money in the bank. It is one of the hardest things you will experience. I've just recorded 25 money talks. I'm gonna blow the water off of the way people deal with money. Now, a lot of the money books and the money talks either talk about manifestation, or investing. Not many of them talk about the gutter level of coming from a victim around money to surviving week by week to not even managing that. To becoming a manager of money, to an accumulator, to an investor. I wanna go through all of that, and I am really enjoying opening a new part of myself that I never thought I would go down. Do you think I ever thought I would be teaching a workshop about money? When I teach workshops about photography? But, I learned, one of the biggest fundamental lessons, the second eye opened my eyes to the business and pricing, I started to allow money to come at me and then I had to learn how to receive it, fix it down, and keep it. And those four things are the hardest things you will ever learn if money is your problem. Now, we're at a la carte here. This guy has a high average, there's no security, but he's at a high average. Now, the bonus is, when I'm selling myself to you, and tomorrow we're gonna do selling yourself, when I'm selling myself to you, my first print is 190 dollars. That sounds like a safe number, doesn't it? My images start at 190 dollars on the wall and you can buy as many as you like, so it's entirely up to you. Some people spend 300 dollars, some people spend 3000. There is no hard sell, my job is to take images of you that you love so you want them all. I'm like, that was my sales pitch. It was, I know it so well, 'cause I did it for like the first 15 years of my life, do you want me to repeat it? (audience laughter) Let me show you. My images start at 190 dollars on the wall. And so, you can buy as many as you want. There's no hard sell, some people spend 300 dollars, some people spend 3000. I was like, the cool thing is, my job is to take as many beautiful photographs of you as I can, so you want them all. And people would just look at me and go, "Wow, she's selling this, she's into it, "I don't have to buy anything." And I'm like, yep. And then, I left that studio and I went out on my own. And this is what my pitch changed to. So, what I can do, the thing is... The easiest way for me, I can just do CD for 400 dollars, and you get everything. And then people would say no, and we'd come selling 7000 dollars worth of portraits through somebody else, to making nothing. I had not confronted my selling block, my money block, and my ability to put myself out there. And that, I learned. And I learned that on my own. These core things that still trip me up, those things that hurt me? That was the greatest gift I've ever, ever, ever, ever, ever had to work through. Greatest. So, here's the safe part. It sounds good, and you're gonna upsell based on the work is so good, and they're gonna have it. Here's the hard part. Some people won't buy, it's a law of averages. Law of averages is called revenue, revenue means business. Income. Then we look at our revenue, based on how much it costs us to be in business, and that's how we work out what our profit is. And unfortunately for a lot of people, there's a misalignment to what you're selling. 'Cause there's no profit left. And the profit is what you pay tax on, but it also means it's the profit is what you take home. So if there's nothing there for tax, then sadly there's also nothing there for you. And I love it how some people are like, I ran at a loss this year, which means the tax department didn't get anything. And I was like, neither did you buddy. (laughs) Yup, you showed them. You showed that tax department. Yet you can go and do a job where you don't pay your own tax, and it goes straight to the tax department and whinge about paying tax, and you haven't experienced what it's like to be self-employed. (clears throat) Please, as a footnote, understand this. If this scares the hell out of you, you've got two choices. Confront it, or go and get a job. You can do both. And if you say, there is no job in the market that I want to do, yes there is. There is a job out there, a dream job, waiting for you. Where you can go home at five o'clock, work your butt off all day, go home at five o'clock, and get paid. I promise you. But know this, if you're in this department where these photographers are, your sky is the limit. And the only thing you're gonna come up against is glass ceilings of your ideas of limits. Now, if you wanna buy a new home, you need to work out what your profit is last year, and how long it's gonna take you to get it, and then work through the value of "I want a new home." Instead of, "I can't have this." Decide that you want something more than you want to be in pain and debt. Now, a package is when you pre-sell a number. I sell a folio box, beautiful folio box of six of these image for 1,200 dollars. Okay, they're negative. Your introduction point is 1,200 dollars. So, you're going to get less bookings, but you're also going to get less no-sales. So what would you rather have? Less bookings and less no-sales, so a more consistent average and shoot less, or would you rather be the person whose shooting, and shooting and shooting, shooting for free, but hitting and missing on the money. Both of them work, and both of them fail. So you have to decide, we're getting into gray zone now, this is Fifty Shades of Gray. (audience laughs) Alright, and so, basically now you're coming at a package where you have to sell a package straight off the bat, and that's what I watched Nicki do. Now, I came from a la carte, give it away free, work it, work it, hustle, hustle, hustle, sell, sell, average. Give it away for free, work it, work it, hustle, hustle, no sale, damn it, brought my average down. And it killed me. Every time somebody didn't buy something, I cried. Every time somebody did buy something, I cried. (audience laughs) Every time somebody didn't buy something, I cried and wanted to give up. And then every time somebody did buy something, I was like, I am good enough! They paid me 7,000 dollars, I am good enough! Oh, my goodness, it's not about you. It is not about you! (shouts in frustration) (laughs) It's not about you! Stop it! Listen to what you're saying! Me, me, me, me, me! Me, me, me, me, me! Where, is business in there, where is service in there, what are you offering? I can't believe how many years I wasted doing this! Poor me, poor me, poor me, I'm not good enough, I am good enough! I'm not good enough, I am good enough! (audience laughs) So then I would go and enter awards, and then I would win awards and I'm like, look at me, I'm brilliant! And then I'd go home and nobody would buy anything that weekend and I'd be like, how could I be so brilliant? So I would hear myself saying things like, I'm so talented, and nobody discovers me! Oh my goodness, I'm so talented and nobody is discovering me. I actually said that out loud, I'm not ashamed. I said that out loud many years ago. If I had 30,000 dollars I could start my own studio. Yeah, if you'd given me 30,000 dollars, 15 years ago, I would've lost it. 'Cause that's how I treated money. So no, the answer to your question is, no. It's not about you, and it's not about 30,000 dollars, and if only I could cut a break. And if only somebody else would see my brilliance. And why is he successful, and I'm not? 'Cause I'm better than him. No, it's not about you. It's about creating a product that has a price on it that you then go and sell to people and they wanna buy it because they really want it for them. And then all of your marketing becomes about what you're giving instead of what you've made. And yet, as creative artists, what is wrong with us? We're just in the way. And it's always us, us, us. Egocentric, you know? To be seen, good enough, validation, permission, validation, permission, fear. And it just is endless. The good part is I am guaranteed to make a minimum sale of 1,200 dollars if they say yes. Both of them have scary, scary parts and both of them have incredible parts. Is this resonating, is everyone getting this? Okay, interrupt me if you need to. 'Cause I'm just gonna keep going here 'cause I feel very, I feel quite strongly about this. (audience laughs) (Sue laughs) Right, beautiful Jen Nelson. I decided back then, that if I had beautiful design, which is not design, it's just a photo, I didn't have to have beautiful design, and if I had words that were simple to understand, that a beautiful makeover and photo shoot. Beautiful. She's beautiful, she's also relatable. Makeover and photo shoot. She's doing a pose, by the way, which I hammer when I critique people's work on my website. I call that talking on the phone. Okay, so, don't do that. But, I also say, my new hands video, that one of the cool things is expression trumps bad hands. You can do that. Okay, I just wanted to throw that in there. Just for the people that are like, that's beautiful, is she talking on the phone, Bryce, 'cause that's what you tell me. (audience laughs) And then I went, yes, but I also told you expression trumps hands. So you can be all like, yeah, but still be like, yeah, no, okay. (audience laughs) Commissions start at 1,200 dollars. Ooh, change what you're saying. Commissions start at 1,200 dollars. I like that. I'm a portrait photographer. How much do you charge? Commissions start at 1,200 dollars. When you're a painter, you say, you're a painter? Yup. Do you sell your work? I do, commissions start at 1,200. Commissions, you can commission me as an artist, and my starting point is 1,200 dollars. I like that. Not, portraits start at, but commissions start at. And I realized in that moment, if you're selling weddings, and portrait, portraits start at 1,200 dollars, weddings start at 4,600 dollars. Commissions start at 1,800 dollars, and then the next question somebody's gonna ask is, what do you get for that 1,200 dollars? But, all I had to do was speak with the words, speak with my imagery, make sure I'm communicating the value of my service over what the product is instead of, folio package, 1,200 dollars, eight by 10, 900 dollars, doot da doot da doo, buh buh buh buh. A whole lot of things that people don't understand. How many laymen that are not photographers know the history of where we got eight by 10, 11 14, 60 20, 20 24, where we got the size of our portraits from? Most people don't, unless you're a framer. Most people have never heard it before. So when you put an eight by 10 is 275 dollars, what is an eight by 10? No, you know, 'cause you're a photographer. Wake up, you're selling something nobody knows what you're talking about. But, if I say a photo shoot, and all the photos and commissions start at 1,200, and you get your hair and makeup done, that changes things. Now, if you're gonna go a la carte, then your commissions or your portrait sitting or your photo shoot sitting price is 675. Or your portrait sitting is 90 dollars. I mean, people saying, "90 dollars, that's cheap." Say, yes, that's for your shoot. That pays for your hair and makeup, and all of your photographs to be taken. Then you come back, have a look at everything I took of you, and what you like, you buy. My images start on the wall at 190 dollars and go up from there. There's no hard-sell. It comes down to this. It's my job to take beautiful photographs of you, and you want to like all of them. Now, my commissions start at 1,200 dollars. That includes a shoot, a makeover, and six photographs. If you want to purchase more, you will decide that at the viewing. I have packages available at the viewing at your reveal, for you to choose as many as you like. These are the beautiful products I sell, let me show them to you. Now, can you hear how comfortably that comes out of my mouth? Now that comes out of my mouth because I have said it for 20 years. Over and over and over again, and there was a time where I said it and it didn't work. So I want you to repeat that because that is where you stand firmly with two feet in the ground and say, my name is Sue Bryce. I am a portrait photographer. My commissions start at 3,300 dollars. What is included in that package, you come to my home, and I will design a photo shoot for you that includes your hair and makeup and all of your photographs taken. It is a 25 page folio with a free image on the wall and you get to choose which one. Have a look at my work, here it is, this is my beautiful product. But it is rooted in one truth. I know what it's worth, and I know how much it is, and I say it with full confidence and the ease with which I can say it is what's getting me bookings. Now, already you've decided I'm definitely more of an a la carte person and you're definitely more of a package person. Let's say you're quite divided and you feel very comfortable, I'm gonna tell people my first package is two grand, that's what I'm worth, that's what I'm good at. So that's exactly where I'm gonna sell. I decided that there is a million ways to sell the idea of a package and I even thought photo shoot was good because it was very modern language. Portrait sitting is no longer modern language. We called it portrait sitting, we were not allowed to call it a photo shoot in 1990, because my boss said it sounds cheap and nasty. And you know, he's like, cheap and nasty, it is a portrait sitting. Well, these days, people don't say portrait sitting, they understand photo shoot, they also know what Photoshop is. So a photo shoot sounds magazine and very contemporary. I thought to myself, what if I called it folio? Everybody knows what a folio is. These words resonate. And you're gonna spend three weeks hung up on the idea of using the word glamour. Yeah, I don't know whether I should use glamour or beauty, because glamour and beauty, I mean they're two different things, right, because most people think of glamour as like 80's glamour, and then in the UK glamour has a really bad connotation 'cause it's like a page three girl, and I just stop, and I stop, and I go and I walk and I breathe. And I say, god help me get through this day, because I'm like, right now, that is not your problem. What you're calling it is not your problem. Okay, 'cause there's just something else to hide behind, that language to hide behind. Any language is mine when I own it. Does the word glamour relate to me? Physically, like when you meet me, you know me, you see how I dress. Does the word glamour resonate with me as a woman? Does it say sensuality, does it say femininity, does it say, glamour is power, it's ostentatious, it's bold. It's everything I am. That word resonates with me because I own it. So when I say, I'm a glamour photographer, I had to own that, so I own all of it. I own all of this. I was like, I had to learn how to own that. So if you wanna, here's something I want you to really consider right now, if you're really struggling with the word glamour, let's just call it... (sighs) Portrait. Nope, doesn't even have to be contemporary portrait. It's clearly contemporary. It doesn't have to be beauty portrait, it's clearly a portrait. What is the one word everybody knows? Portrait. Now, I cannot tell you how easy that is. I'm a portrait photographer. How much do you cost? Those are two things, what do you do, how much? Yeah, that's service, product, cost. Alright, let's go with portrait, let's be comfortable here. The evolution. Your evolutionary scale is gonna be based right here to be a portrait and a wedding photographer. Let me do a little bit of a joke about the wedding photographer. I've seen a lot of evolution. I did 101 weddings in my early career, I would rather stick pens in my eyes and lick a power socket. (audience laughs) Simultaneously. Right now, if somebody offered me 50k to shoot their wedding, I'd be like oh gosh, I really would have to stick pens in my eyes and lick, no. No, sorry, I won't shoot your wedding. I hate weddings that much, okay. I don't want to do them, I don't care for them, I don't want to stand in front of 300 people and hassle and yell and be seen. I can't think of anything worse, I'm just like take me home to my studio, where I'm alone, alone in my studio with just the quietness of my beautiful studio. And one woman whose life I can transform with conversation and photography. My calling was very clear. Now, I watch the wedding photographers, they do a free wedding, they do a cousin's wedding. Hey, I could charge for this, listen, I'll give you 400 dollars. 400 dollars is a lot of money. 400 dollars is gonna get you a designer gown, it's most people's weekly wage, you know, it's 400 bucks, 400 bucks is gonna put gas in your car, put food on your table and keep you out of trouble largely for the weekend. (audience laughs) Alright, 400 dollars seems like a lot of money. Then you think to yourself, huh, if I did this every week, I could get 400 dollars on top of my, you soon realize, it's not even profitable, so. I rounded it up to 800, I think Nicki went 500, 600, you really dragged yourself up to the 1,000's. In fact, Nicki's evolution to 1, took a lot longer than mine. However, my evolution stalled here between 1,000 and 2,000. 1,800 dollars was a very safe place for me to stay at and I stayed there for years, years. Now, then you've realized, that when you're around the 1,600 to 2,000 dollar mark in your first year proper season of being a wedding photographer, you generally book usually about 20 weddings, and you are on, you are in this business. You are hustling that wedding season, and you're managing albums and people and delivery, and you're probably still holding your old part time job, right Nicki, you were hustle, hustle, hustle. And then you go into your third year, and then you very uncomfortably bounce your pricelist to around 2,500 dollars or somewhere in between, and right about now, you book 43 weddings. You get an assistant, you get a retoucher, you outsource. And all of a sudden, you don't have a life, your husband walks out on you, your dog leaves one day and never comes back, your children are having temper tantrums and you are like, working your guts out, and theoretically you're getting five times more the money than when you started, and you're not making ends meet. So then, you do what a lot of people do, you either quit, or you then charge 5,000 dollars and get 7 bookings next year. And 38 bookings at that amount and 7 bookings at that amount is actually less. And then all of a sudden you realize that your gravy train is coming to an end because your back is not going to get you through another season. And so you do what most people do in their fifth year of wedding photographers, you become a portrait photographer. And nobody calls. So not only does nobody call, you can't even, you're back here. It's like, I just think I started again. And this is extraordinary to me. Because you have already run a business that is service related to money, related to producing product, to selling it, moving it, to keep making people happy and turning up when you're supposed to turn up. And then you wanna go back to here, and you don't get it. And the truth is this. In my next slide, in fact, I'm gonna keep that. I'm gonna keep that for the next one, because it sits in a very powerful position. But here's the truth of it. I have been in a portrait studio for 26 years. When I was selling weddings for my boss, the phone rang every day. We're in bridal magazines, what does a bride do, she gets a magazine, she does search engine optimization, I'm getting married, wedding photographers in her area pop up, she looks at your website, she chooses five. Some people choose 35. She calls all of them and she asks two questions, when are you available and how much? Then she bases the next appointment on if you fall in one of those brackets, yes you're available, and yes you're within my price range, and they will come and meet you. And that's the moment where you're selling yourself as a wedding photographer. Okay, 'cause there's also the wedding photographer that whose work they love, but you're way out of my price range, then she'll go back to her partner, juggle the finances, and come back with the, "I want you "and I'm prepared to pay 8,000 dollars to get you, "your work is incredible." You've sold her already. Now, a portrait photographer exists entirely differently. I get asked all the time why I don't do search engine optimization on my site. People aren't searching for me for being a glamour photographer. They haven't for 26 years. And I'll tell you why. Most people don't know they need a portrait taken until you tell them. The biggest time in our century of taking portraits was before World War One and Two. We sent all of our sons to the local photographer to get their portraits taken in case they did not come home from war. Then, we had a sweet 16 photographer, and then an engagement photographer, and then a wedding photographer. He was the family, local photographer in mid-century. Everybody has an official portrait, right? From back at that time. And something has evolved during that time. Cameras, people getting video cameras in their home. Started with eight millimeter, now some people are probably buying Scarlets to photograph their kid's fifth birthday. Lets face it, I've been to a wedding where one of the guests had a Phase One. And I was shooting it on a Five D Mark One. A Phase One. Like, excuse me while I bump into your 50,000 dollar camera, can you get out of my way? I'm a professional. I've charged nearly 900 dollars to be here. (audience laughs) So if you don't mind, get out of my way. And the truth is is the evolution of this is based on what you think it's worth and the service you provide and the product you sell. Okay. My first 15 years was a charge to sitting fee, and then I did a la carte pricing, my average sale was 1,800 dollars, I did lots of free sessions with 100 dollars credit, so that included the 1,800 dollars average. So, if you minus the free sitting and the 100 dollars, I have to take that off what I earned so my average was 2,000 or 1,900, and basically after they got their discount and I paid for my makeup artist, my average sale was 1,800 dollars. Okay, and that worked for me for many many years. But then I decided that my package should go up. And I also decided I no longer wanted to do a small, medium, or large. I was well-known enough that I could actually tell people that the entry point to being photographed by me was 3,300. Now, you're not at that level yet, and you will be, soon. Heike will be, when she starts doing the European portraits. She's gonna be at an entry point of 5,000 dollars. You know, plus you pay for your own flights and accommodation, right, 'cause you're not covering that. So basically, that is the slow evolution. Now, let's have a look. Here's a couple of areas you need to consider that are one of the hardest things to do in start up. How do I pay for my studio cost, my hair and makeup, my product cost, and then look at my profit and tax? 'Cause the cost of doing business is very important. And this is where I feel like you need a mentor to lock down the systems that you've got going around money, around income, what you're doing with it, and how you're managing it. Now, that there is logistically one of the most basic things you will ever do in your studio and it will be one of the biggest things you avoid as a creative. Because I, again, would rather shoot a wedding than do my taxes. (audience laughs) It's tax month, at the end of the month, I code my bank statements, 'cause I wanna know where my money is. I wanna know where it's going, I don't want a bookkeeper, I wanna do it. My bookkeeper's only gonna ask me anyway, if I'm paying somebody to sit next to me and ask questions, I might as well do it. I wanna know where my money's going, and I want control of it. I also drag myself, kicking and screaming, into the office. I avoid it for eight days, and then I avoid it for the next month, and then usually on a six month cycle, okay, let's not lie, 'cause we're friends here, usually the month before tax time I do all 12 months. And it takes me seven days. And I'm like, next year I will do it every month, and no, you won't do it 'cause you're a photographer. You're not an accountant. And accountants are boring people. (audience laughs) And I have a life, and I'm way too colorful to be doing this. And then I feel sorry for my accountant friends, but they have a gift. Like, that is gift. That is something I don't have. What's your option, outsource it, or get a partner that's really good at it. Here's a footnote. I went to a business, very talented photographer, she can't make money. "How do I make money?" You sell this, you're really good at it, you should sell it. "Where?" Anywhere there's women. "But where?" You know, you just gotta get out of the house, we just gotta get you out of the house and talking and selling. "Oh, yeah, now that's not my thing." Okay, we're gonna have a problem here. There's a bottleneck. So, I then said to her, get a business partner. Not a photographer. Someone whose really into making money, and someone whose really into selling. And she was like, I'm not giving away 50 percent of my business. And I said sorry, you're not giving away 50 of your debt? You don't have a business. You don't make any money. 50 percent of a successful business is better than 100 percent of nothing. So, everyone's gonna go and find a business partner in the next month and let me tell you a few good and bad things about that. Like anything, it's a marriage. A marriage is hard work. People fight about two things, sex and money. It's a fact, marriages. So, when you take sex out of the equation, and you're working with a business partner you need to have the same value system around money. Or you're going to find yourself in deep, deep trouble. And when that parts ways, you need to have an exit plan set up in place to go in a different direction. One of you, if not both, will be harboring a awesome amount of resentment. Somebody will get a better deal than the other person. Especially if it was all your creative idea in the first place. It is the curse of the creative to get stolen from. Now, let's wake up creative. It is your curse to be stolen from, because you don't care about money. So if you go and find somebody that cares a lot about money, they're gonna take it from you. It's that simple, it doesn't matter how clever you are, it doesn't matter how smart you think you are, they are in business and you are just being creative. And there's a payoff there, it takes open communication, like a marriage. And there has to be an exit plan. So the exit plan is, if it all turns to dust tomorrow, who gets what, who keeps what, because I've seen business partnerships fail and then that person sues the original artist for half their income for the next five years because they are saying, I made you. And if they've invested money in you, they do own you. They own a part of you. So I single handedly empowered you, and then frightened the hell out of you in five minutes, didn't I? 'Cause I've experienced both. Every single time I feel that massive amount of resentment come up around my old business partner, I remember what she gave me. I could not make money until I started working for her. She taught me how to receive it. She taught me how to save it. She taught me how to value it. Had I not learned that, I would not be where I am now. So I flip it to gratitude, and I get on with my day. But, in hindsight, being 20 20, would I have confronted 7, 8, and 9 in the areas of mastery? Or would I have not been her business partner and just gone out on my own and tried to do that? Or would I be her business partner again to learn what I learned? And the answer is, I would do it again. She empowered me. And you have to stay grateful, not resentful.

Class Description

When Sue Bryce taught her first CreativeLive class in 2012, she reinvented the category of glamour photography. That workshop inspired thousands of photographers to create a new kind of portrait photography business.

During this special event, you’ll hear from Sue again and meet nine photographers who changed the trajectory of their business and their lives thanks to inspiration they found in Sue’s CreativeLive classes.

In Portrait Startup, you’ll find out exactly what these photographers did to transform their fledgling photography operations into sophisticated, profitable businesses. You’ll learn about what it takes to build a profitable photography business and Sue will detail the Areas of Mastery required to run and sustain it. 

You’ll learn about:  

  • Cameras & Lighting
  • Studio or Location
  • Website & Portfolio
  • Marketing & Design
  • Social Media & Connection
  • Price & Product
  • Sales & Selling
  • Money Management
Sue will discuss the essential elements for building a successful glamour photography studio and you’ll get specific, tactical insights for doing it yourself.

Each of the guest photographers will share their own unique story of following Sue's business model and they’ll provide intimate details on what they've discovered and what worked (or didn't) for them. Sue will share the secrets behind her wildly effective Reveal Wall and share strategies that guarantee sales while keeping clients happy and eager to refer you to their friends.

If you want to build a photography business that celebrates the beauty inherent in all women, while running a business that provides for you and your family, join Sue Bryce and guests for Portrait Startup and learn how to build a business and life that you love.

Click here for the Complete Sue Bryce collection.


Sandra Sal

How glad I am that I have purchased this course! Sue is just wonderful woman, photographer, business person and life coach. This course is so informative, inspiring, educating and just AMAZING!! Simply a must have! Don't even think "should I get it" just buy it and you will be blown away! I loved every second of it and will keep re watching it many times more! Thank you to Sue, wonderful mentours and Creative Live!!

Laura Captain Photography

As a person that is new to portrait photography and to starting a portrait business, this class has been extremely valuable to me and well worth my time. It is also very helpful to hear from the mentors. I have a lot of respect for Sue, her work and her wisdom. She is genuine, has a passion for her work and has a wealth of information to share. I believe this class will actually allow a person to achieve their goals and build a business. I now feel more knowledgeable and more confident about pursuing a photography business. Thanks so much Sue and thanks to CreativeLive for providing wonderful online education.

Janice S.

i just finished watching this workshop. though i'd seen sue's name on the list of creative live workshops, this is the first one i've done. to me, she is effectively partnering life coaching with photography education. which is awesome. between being an ER nurse for almost 20 years, as well as arriving at my late 40s not unscathed, i can relate to much of what sue has said and would like to think that i'm in a better position to tackle the business of business ownership than i would have been 20 or 30 years ago. the other thing i noticed was hints of rhonda byrne. this may or may not actually be the case, but it seems like it. the power of positive thinking essentially. i loved the whole thing. though i'm not really close to implementing the business practices taught here, i wanted to watch the whole thing before moving on to her glamour photography workshop. i wanted to understand what i would be moving toward as i go through my technical education. i believe i will be adding 28 days to my class list too. thank you sue!