Amen, sister!

Happy Sunday everyone!  Yea go Colts!  It was an exciting afternoon for this fair weather fan….we donned our Colts gear and cheered them onto the Superbowl.   I’m really not a football fan AT ALL, but, being a Hoosier it’s exciting just the same.

So, I was surfing around the web today (during commercial breaks, of course!) and found this  GEM of a blog post from a photographer in Georgia.  Seriously, I was doing the happy dance just reading it.  Like me, Shannon Holden gets daily requests and questions from fellow photographers on the how/what/when/where/why of her photography business.  Like me, she is happy to answer what she can, when she can…..but sometimes other things are more pressing….and at then at times we end up writing multiple emails of the same info day after day.

Well…..she wrote the most brilliant post answering so eloquently many questions that have been asked……and giving fantastic insight to the aspiring photographer about what it takes to succeed in this business.  After reading this I 100% agree with ALL that she has written.  My favorite grabs from her piece are these:

… be a business person. Any successful photographer (not the starving artist, but the photographer who can actually afford to pay their bills and still pay themselves, too) will tell you that success in this industry is 20% talent and 80% business skills. You absolutely must understand what it takes to run a business and do so legally. Be prepared for the money and time required. Even if you are planning your business to be a small, secondary job, you will probably be surprised at the amount of time you will pour into it. Your cost of doing business is not just your camera and your prints. Your business time is not just your time behind the camera.


and this:


This business will offer a lot of competition, some of it friendly, some of it not. Some colleagues you meet may have been burned by a competitor, so don’t be surprised if they seem a bit guarded. Most photographers I know would love to offer insight and knowledge to an aspiring artist, but it can be very challenging to do so.  Many, like me, are working parents, working very hard to maintain a delicate balance between career and family. As a business owner, our free time is so precious, and we usually want to save it for our spouses and kids. So while we would love to answer a question or two when we can, often the questions we get require a lot of time to address, time we simply don’t have to spare. For this reason, I highly recommend finding an online community, where most of the answers you seek are often being discussed at length, and you can find multiple perspectives on your topic.


Amen, Sister.


When I started this photo thing 11 years ago, I had no idea I was starting a family business….one that my husband would eventually run masterfully.    I shot film, developed all my client’s prints in the (bathroom) darkroom of our one bedroom apartment, used my personal cell phone as the business line, and was MORTIFIED accepting money for what I considered my “gift.”   In addition to my own clients, in the beginning I shot for another photographer’s studio and I consider that relationship such a blessing!   Thank you Mark and Christine for trusting me in those early days!!  Having the experience of being behind the camera SO MUCH was invaluable.

We have come such a far way, and by no means was this overnight.  Thankfully, Matt took the reigns of the business after about the first year and we made some VERY good decisions in valuing our time and talent.  In turn, we have built the most amazing base of loyal clientele, and consider it a privilege to document their lives.  We still struggle with balancing the whole work vs. family life thing….and because of this, we have declined becoming industry speakers.

But, I have had a bunch of requests for workshops through the years.  While preparing and hosting a workshop is not really my thing, I’ll be doing a mentoring session at our studio next month for a lovely photog out of Canada (hi Janet!), and might be open to more.  So let us know if you’d be interested.  BUT!  In the meantime, please check out that post from Shannon, and I hope it will provide some great insight.  I’m still happy to answer any specific questions that photographers might have.  I’m kind of an open book in that department…so if for some reason you have asked me a question in the past and I have not gotten back to you, I am so sorry!  Life got in the way. 

And since I’ve been asked a bunch lately, here is what’s in my bag:

Canon 5D mark II, Canon 5D,

50mm 1.2, 85mm 1.8, 100mm 2.8, 70-200mm 2.8, 24-70mm 2.8, 17mm 2.8
In the studio, we shoot Photogenic lights with a 4×6 foot soft box and (2) 2×3 boxes.  I really like the Gary Fong lightsphere attachment if I need to use the Canon on camera flash.


I am FIRM believer that it’s not the camera in your hand that makes the image, but eye in our head and the relationship you build with your subject.  I am not a gear girl, and I consider these just tools to get the job done.  That being said, I have been a very happy Canon shooter since leaving my Nikon gear in the dust 3 years ago.

In addition to the resources that Shannon included in her post, I’d recommend the following vendors:

Millers Lab

Jonathan Penny Printmakers


Competitive Cameras

Kimbra Jewelry

Gina Alexander Handbags

Design Aglow

Wild Sorbet Frame Company

Totally Rad Action Mix


Jill E Designs

And since I’m one proud mama….here are our crazy kids.  These are the pics from our Christmas card this year…and since they would rather take a 3 hour nap than get their pictures taken, I’m so happy they obliged on this day!

  • tami - i’ve followed your blog for a while now and love each and every post! BUT, it’s this post that brought this lurker out! thank you for posting this. i had NO idea what went into a photography business and respect those like yourself. thank you for sharing yourself and your work for us to admire!

  • Christy Lynn - Thanks so much for this post. I have been reading your blog for sometime now and have learned so much from you. Your willingness to share your knowledge has been wonderful! Thanks again.

  • Kelli - Hi Angie, you were so kind to answer my questions several months ago via email- I would LOVE to participate in a mentoring session with you and would definitely be interested in hearing more details about what you are thinking of offering!

  • Amy - Fabulous post and link. Shannon really hit the nail on the head. I will link to it as well. Thanks so much!

  • Melissa D - thanks for sharing! i would SOO love to learn more about a mentoring session! please keep me posted.

  • Melissa - I have been looking for someone to do a mentoring session with me for quite a few months now in this area. Please, please, please let me know if you decide to do more!!! I am beyond interested. Here is my website if you want to see what I have done so far (which isn’t much!).
    Right now I am just taking pictures of my friends and their children without charging so that I can get practice.
    Thank you so much for this post!

  • Reagan - I am very intrested in a mentoring session!!!! You were reading my mind… I was thinking about emailing you yesterday and asking about a phone or in person consultation. Please let me know the details. SO EXCITED!!!
    Thanks so much,

  • Janet Pliszka - Thank you so much for your post, Angie. There is such truth in Shannon’s comments and think it’s wonderful she shared her thoughts. For all business owners finding the balance between keeping your company successful and spending quality time with your family (both children and spouse) is a huge challenge. Thank you for carving the time into your schedule to mentor me. I am absolutely thrilled to meet you and learn from you next month and sooooooo appreciate you welcoming me into your studio. Can’t wait. eeekkkk. And darn it, your Stars beat our Flames tonight!!!

  • dustin - Angie, you guys are great, and you have a big heart to share with us who are not as far into this little adventure. Being the recipient of some great advice from you in the past, I appreciate what you do…and I always get inspiration from your work.