Interviews with real-life photographers, making your mark, and details of how to create the best client experience… all bound by our goal to make EVERYTHING you hear beneficial and actionable.
Our team wanted to start a Cole’s Classroom podcast for photographers just like you. We know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed, excited, and flat out scared of starting a business where YOU are in charge!
What the heck are we going to talk about on this new podcast??
The real, the raw, and messy stuff in between (because life and business can get messy sometimes).
It will cover what you need to know about navigating your photography business (especially during such a strange time), how to effectively advertise your business, standing out in a saturated market (when everyone and their dog has a DSLR), and how to power through times when you may not have as much confidence in your work.
We are talking with inspiring and creative entrepreneurs to encourage, empower, and equip YOU to take the next steps in your photography.
Our goal is to leave each episode with actionable steps, so you can gain confidence, book your calendar, and earn more income with your passion.
Check Out the Latest Episodes Below!
How you launch your business is what determines how quickly you book clients and earn a steady income. Today we speak with CC Seder, a full-time special needs teacher and photographer who booked 33 mini-sessions in her first 30 days of business. As informative as it is inspiring, CC reveals her launch strategy, highlighting easy-to-follow steps that lead to a successful launch.
Welcome to the five-day mini-session challenge! This challenge is designed to help you plan your mini-sessions for the year. By the end of the week, you will have gained a bunch of useful knowledge that’ll assist you in knowing what to charge, how to upsell your galleries, and much more.
Marketing ourselves on social media can feel overwhelming with many asking themselves — “where should I start, what should I post, and how can I drive engagement with my audience?” In today’s episode, we chat to photographer and personal brand expert Mandy Liz about how you can get organized and start posting content that gets attention and boosts your revenue.
Many photographers are currently considering moving from their tried and trusty DSLR camera to a newer and shinier mirrorless model. If you are one of them, this is definitely the episode for you! Shalonda Chaddock joins us on the podcast again to talk about her experience of this switch and the lessons she has learned in the process. She shares all of her wisdom and a few of the mistakes she made so that you do not have to make the same ones!
As photographers, it is always easy to get excited about the latest and greatest piece of equipment and imagine how it will be improving our photos and upping our game. In this episode, we explore why this mindset can often be the wrong use of our resources and a few of the better applications of our funds and energy. Research and education are ongoing processes but are essential in the early stages for finding what your specific needs are in relation to what you want to offer your clients.
Pivoting into education is not always the right move for everyone, and it is by no means a get-rich-quick scheme. You have to be passionate about helping others do the things that you have managed to do successfully in your business. Our guest today is Jenni Maroney, a photographer turned business coach, helping female photographers transform their businesses into thriving powerhouses. Jenni is a repeat guest on our show; if you recall, in the previous episode we discussed in-person sales. In today’s episode, Jenni talks about why it is important to have a mentor and how to know if you’re ready to join a Mastermind.
While it is necessary to focus on your niche, applying lessons from other photography genres can help you stand out from the crowd. Today we speak to Nikon ambassador Kristi Odo whose work capturing wildlife and their emotions has made her a better wedding photographer. We open our inspiring conversation with Kristi by exploring her background and how taking a blurry picture of Bono from U2 sparked her passion for photography. We then talk about her latest projects and why you don’t need to go far to find captivating stories.
Creating a balance between your professional and private life can be a tricky task, especially if you’re a business owner. We sit with Morgan Williams, a photographer, business owner, and mother who has spent the last five years refining her business process. Today she shares her best tips and tricks. We open the episode by learning about Morgan’s history in photography, and how she could never be too far from her camera.
After working several jobs to stay afloat, Sarah Witherington burst into the photography scene with her first Groupon gig which earned her 2,000 clients. Today, we sit down with Sarah to discuss her journey as a photographer, beginning with how she got her start in the industry. Sarah tells us about how she changed direction in college toward a more creative avenue and used her student loans to purchase her first professional camera.
Creating a profitable photography business can be a challenging task, but what if there was a way you could achieve your five-year plan in just one? Wedding photographer and Pinterest expert Sharee Davenport did just that. Today we talk to Sharee about how she leveraged her Pinterest account to market her work, triple her revenue, and book over $100,000 worth of gigs within the first six months.
Damien Carter is a part-time photographer who always goes above and beyond for his clients. He shoots everything (except newborns!) from weddings to lifestyle brands and along with providing his clients with exquisite images, he specializes in curating personalized experiences for them. In this episode, Damien offers a ton of tips to improve your relationship with your clients and ensure that they are getting full value from your service.
If you have refined your skill to the point where it has led you to find success, you can add so much value to people’s lives and careers by teaching them what you have learned. Today we invite Emma Natter onto the show to talk about her process of condensing her branding expertise into a coaching business which did so well that she made $90,000 during the launch of her first online course! Emma is a launch strategist and Founder of The Aesthetic Way, a course that teaches entrepreneurs to create businesses that simultaneously build financial success, make a positive impact, and fulfill creative dreams.
For many of us, photography is the most inspiring and exciting pursuit. It can bring with it adventure, new perspectives, and even foster new connections, but what happens when the well of inspiration runs dry? Today’s guest is Roy Handy, a graphic designer from New Orleans with a strong background in portrait photography, who has had his work published in Essence Magazine and on Beyonce.com, among others. In this episode, Roy talks about the importance of passion projects and how to use them to stay inspired for the long term.
Today’s guest is LaShonda Brown, an award-winning corporate film producer and Squarespace expert based in Virginia. LaShonda is also an expert on Canva, a graphic design platform used to create social media graphics, presentations, posters, documents, and other visual content. In this episode, LaShonda has some pertinent and helpful tips about how to use Canva, she shares the features that she believes are overlooked, and she also has some advice for creating stellar graphics.
Running a photography business isn’t always easy and can be stressful in pretty unexpected ways. In today’s episode, we dive straight into some of the most common fears that photographers have, tackle them head-on, and provide the best solutions for each. The first fear we bust is the idea that you’re not good enough. We take a few moments to remind you not to compare your photographic journey to others, and that other successful photographers have also had their fair share of bad days behind the camera.
Grabbing website copy builds trust, proves your value, and can help fill your calendar with bookings. Today, we speak with photographer and copywriter, Rachel Greiman, about how you can write copy that hooks clients. We open our conversation by talking about Rachel’s start in photography and the origins of her company, Green Chair Stories. After reflecting on how unique every photographer’s journey is, we dive into the importance of copy lenses — guidelines that narrow your focus and help you define your service, your clients, and your world view. We touch on how copy lenses give you a stress-free writing framework before asking Rachel for her top writing tips.
Today we are talking to Chris Scott from Swift Galleries and The Print Maker System, both of which help photographers run a successful IPS or in-person sales business. Chris started out as a wedding photographer and noticed that the photography industry didn’t have anything out there to help IPS photographers with sales meetings from start to finish, so together with his wife, he built his own tools and program to meet the need of the market.
In order to market anything – your product, your company, or your ideas – you first need to define your unique brand. Your brand is not just the visuals, like your logo and your website, it also encompasses your brand identity. Today’s guest, Abby Grace, has 6 steps for establishing your brand identity, which is so important to running a successful business.
It’s important to continue to set business goals and push forward, even during times of crisis. Today’s guest is Erin Youngren, who is an educator and photographer. In this episode, Erin talks about setting goals for 2021, and you might be thinking, “How do I set goals when there is so much uncertainty in the world right now?” Well, Erin has the answer for you. She walks us through exactly how to plan for the future, even during a pandemic, and how to set goals that will keep your business moving forward.
Unlike many other art forms, photography is a field that is still largely inaccessible due to the high cost of equipment and the difficulty of finding people who are willing to teach. But our guest today, Sara Keith, and her business partner were determined to solve this problem by providing photography education to people from underserved communities in the Metro Atlanta area.
Stress is one of those things that can take the joy out of your photography career, but implementing good systems can help reduce it. Nobody understands systems as well as Dahlia Orth, and today she joins us on the show to geek out about how they have changed her life and how she can use them to help change yours. Dahlia is a photographer and systems specialist who has helped countless photographers get their life back through setting up systems and workflows that take away their stress. We talk to Dahlia about the stress she felt when her business started to grow and how implementing systems changed everything for her.
One of the things our guest today learned very early on was the power of social media and how it’s not just about uploading nice content and hoping people see it and engage with it. In fact, there is an actual strategy and specific steps you need to take to really make it work and to help you grow your business.
With half of small businesses closing down within their first five years, the odds are stacked against us. But you have an unlikely ally — your competition. Today we speak with Natalie Franke, the HoneyBook Head of Community and co-founder of the Rising Tide Society. As a pioneering voice of the Community over Competition movement, she helps foster creative communities and support networks for small businesses.
Figuring out Facebook ads can be overwhelming, but joining us to shed some light on the topic is photographer, videographer, and Facebook ads guru Chip Dizárd. Chip has a longstanding career in photography and first decided to fine-tune his social media marketing skills when he wanted to reach a market beyond just the group of people he knew. In this episode, he advises listeners on getting started with Facebook ads, walking them through every step, from identifying your target audience to knowing where they like to shop and hang out.
Styled shoots or sessions are such a big part of running a wedding photography business, and we all need to make some mistakes in order to learn from them and improve, right? Well, you can also learn from the mistakes of others, and today’s show aims to help you do just that! Today’s guest is Judith Stoop, a wedding and family photographer based in Munich, Germany, who also has a passion for styled sessions. In this episode, Judith shares how her first few styled sessions went, what mistakes she made, what she learned from them, and how she makes sure her styled sessions are successful. What is great about this interview is that Judith doesn’t sugarcoat anything, because she wants to share the lessons she has learned. She also gives us some great tips and tricks for mastering styled sessions, and talks through how she sets up these sessions in a way that isn’t overwhelming. So, grab a pen and paper, take some notes, and make sure not to miss this episode!
Established by photographer KT Merry as a means of creating connection across species and borders, Render Loyalty seeks to support solutions to the perils facing our world’s animals. KT Merry is a destination wedding photographer who is lucky enough to work beside her husband and business partner, Chad. Their goal is to use their skills and passions to leave the world a bit more beautiful than when they found it. Whether that is telling a story of a once in a lifetime wedding day, or sharing images that shed light on issues of global importance, it’s the work that they are honored to do. In this episode, KT tells us more about how she like to gives back to conservancy projects, and why it is so important to her. She also gives us ideas on how we can give back as photographers, and the importance of photography passion projects. Don’t miss this episode!
Family sessions are incredibly rewarding to shoot, but they come with their own challenges. With many people to coordinate, it’s important to have a clear plan of action as a photographer to get the best out of the shoot. Shalonda Chaddock, today’s guest, is a family photographer extraordinaire, and she joins us to share her unique approach to her shoots. In this episode, Shalonda discusses how having children was the impetus to pursue photography professionally. She saw the magic of capturing milestones and has been hooked ever since. We also explore the importance of creating a connection with the client before a shoot.
When it comes to photography sessions, many of us might be slightly hesitant at marketing ourselves as mini session photographers. Is 15 minutes really enough time to capture those “must-have” shots? Would you be able to make enough money to survive by doing only mini sessions? Our guest on today’s episode of Find Your Focus Podcast is family photographer and educator Rebecca Rice.
So much of what we see on social media is fake and makes people feel inferior. It is so important to have images in circulation that deliver a different narrative. Today’s guest is Kate Parker, New York Times bestselling author of Strong Is the New Pretty and The Heart of a Boy. Kate’s work is real, raw, and tries to capture girls and boys as they really are, doing what they love, in a manner that doesn’t look posed. Our conversation with Kate is all about how she got started in photography, how she came up with the idea for Strong Is the New Pretty, and what goes into making her non-stereotypical images.
Everyone has something unique to them—a specific area in which they shine and where most of their positive feedback comes from. Whether it be communication with clients, a specific editing technique, or the way you thank them after the shoot, it is about identifying your strength as a photographer and doubling down on it! This is what our guest today, Terri Baskin, refers to when she talks about finding your frosting. Terri is a photographer and educator who has succeeded in creating a unique experience for her clients. But it wasn’t always smooth sailing. She talks about comparing herself to others when she just started her business and how she finally found her groove when she gave up trying to mimic others and focused instead on crafting the business she wanted. Terri shares how referrals became the backbone of her business and why she is so adamant about working only with ideal clients, and she offers expert advice on how you too can find that one thing that makes you stand out in a saturated market.
There are many routes that you can take for a career in photography, and one of the really great ones we don’t hear enough about is branding shoots. Here to talk about how her passion for taking pictures developed into a great career in branding photography is Meg Marie! After discovering her love of capturing portraits while living in Asia, Meg came home to the US to pursue this career and was fully committed to finding success in her new field. This meant learning about the business side of things and a lot of research and skills development. After starting out in wedding photography, an occupation she loved, she started to build up a reputation for her branding shoots and made the decision to pursue that full-time. Meg has experienced loads of success with her work in this area and has so much wisdom to share with anyone aspiring to a similar path.
Productivity and scheduling are two areas of any creative business that go hand in hand! Without a finely attuned approach to these areas of work, we might all end up on the couch all day and never get out of our pajamas! Laylee Emadi, our guest today, has loads of personal experience with overcoming the distractions we encounter all day, every day, and she is here to share some of that wisdom with all of our listeners.
As creatives, our minds do not naturally go to the practical side of things, and these tasks may even overwhelm us. But it is incredibly important to realize that when you are a photographer, you are a business owner as well, which means you have to make the necessary provisions for your venture to thrive. Today’s guest, Paige Griffith, is the owner of The Legal Paige, a virtual law firm, where she teaches small business owners the legal way to run their operations. As a photographer herself, Paige has used her law degree to fill a gap in the market by providing legal advice and educational material for photographers. In this episode, Paige outlines some pertinent legal issues photographers need to be aware of.
During this unprecedented, uncertain time where many industries have been closed, the thought of reopening your photography business can be very exciting. But rather than rushing in, it’s important to think about certain things before getting back to normal. This includes ensuring you are complying with all the necessary laws and having the required legal provisions in your contract. Along with this, Logan shares the five ways she is keeping herself and her clients safe. Remember, if you don’t feel comfortable getting back to business, you can find other ways to make money through photography, and whatever you decide, Cole’s Classroom is here for you!
Today, I’m going to be talking to Kate Guertin, a mentor at Cole’s Classroom and the owner of Sweetest Things Photography. She decided to quit her corporate job and jump full-time into professional photography. She knew very little about it, but she was determined to learn and, through her hard work and dedication, her business ended up making more than $100,000 in its first year! Kate’s story is truly inspiring, and in this episode, she shares with us how she put her fear aside and threw herself into photography, starting by joining Cole’s Classroom on the $1 Trial.
Most of us get into photography for the love of the art and not for the love of selling. Many photographers feel uncomfortable when it comes to selling their services. In this episode, we talk with Jenni Maroney, a successful newborn photographer who reveals how in-person selling (IPS) can help you earn more and develop stronger relationships with your clients without being sleazy. After sharing her story, Jenni talks about how IPS isn’t about squeezing dollars out of a client but about adding to the value that you provide as a photographer.
There are as many photographers as there are coffee shops. But what makes one better than the next? Why do we prefer going back to the same ones over and over again? It’s all about creating an experience that your clients cannot stop talking about. This involves doing small extra things to show that you care and are interested in what matters to them—and it doesn’t have to be high effort or expensive. In this episode, we share those special things you can do to keep clients happy and get them talking about your service with everybody else. From handing them a small gift when you wrap up a session to inviting them to a client appreciation event at the end of the year, there are lots you can do to wow!
Wedding and engagement photographs often follow a formulaic series of poses that can make them feel forced rather than capturing couples’ true happiness. Wilson Lau, a wedding photographer, looks to turn this convention on its head with his signature ‘happiness photography.’ We kick off the episode by learning more about Wilson’s start in the industry and what the process of finding his style looked like.
With the crowded photography landscape, it can be difficult to stand out. But there are some tried and tested branding techniques and strategies you can use to ensure that you get noticed. Our guest today, Amanda Shuman, owner of Carrylove Designs, helps creatives book more clients and make more money doing what they love. We kick off the episode by diving into Amanda’s background in brand strategy and her transition from a corporate role to a freelance one. We then hear some tips on how creatives can stand out online, and Amanda shares what she has done to get noticed as a web designer. She is not your run-of-the-mill designer who can only do attractive design. Instead, Amanda blends her creative web skillset with a sharp analytical mind to give her a unique perspective of the craft. We round the show off by talking about mistakes to avoid on your site as a creative, how video is changing marketing, and more. Tune in today!
Sometimes, we need to learn how to push past the judgments of other people, live the life that we want to live and forge our own path to success. In today’s episode, I’m talking to someone who did just that. My guest is Hope Taylor, who is the owner of Hope Taylor Photography. She is not only a photographer but also has a YouTube channel with tons of amazing resources for photographers.
Today’s topic is a tough one because it touches all of us in some way—fear. While both new and seasoned photographers sometimes battle with fears and insecurities, it is mostly the upcoming ones who face the biggest internal obstacles, especially when they start comparing their work with those who have been doing it for 20 years. We worry about whether we’re good enough, what others will think, and we’re concerned about how we will support our families (and please loved ones!) with our new businesses. But the good news is that fear is a liar that you can conquer.
In this episode of Find Your Focus, Logan chats to Bobbi Peterson, a member of the well-known Twig & Olive trio, about using social media for marketing purposes. Tuning in to the show, listeners will hear the back story of how their business came into existence over margaritas and how their diverse skills miraculously fell into place to complement one another so that they can each do the tasks that they’re passionate about. Bobbi talks about the importance of getting your website right since it is often a client’s first engagement with your brand and how your social media sites are the side doors that can be used to get the word out there and lure in your ideal clients.
Did you know that using Pinterest can help your business rank on the first page of a Google search? Pinterest is a powerful, unique, and often overlooked tool for digital marketing, and we are joined today by Anna Bennett, Pinterest expert and founder of White Glove Social Media, to learn more about it. Anna has a history in retail fashion and marketing, and when she sold her day spa several years ago, she was left to choose between kicking her feet back and retiring or finding her life’s next purpose. She decided to take a course on social media strategy, mastered the science of Pinterest, and since then has since gained huge credibility in that space. Today Anna talks about how Pinterest works and differs from other social media platforms, and how to use it as a way of expanding your online presence.
Welcome to the first episode of the Find Your Focus podcast with Cole’s Classroom, where you’ll hear inspirational stories and pro tips from our guests to help you on your journey with photography! Joining us today is Christopher Hall, a professional photographer who we had to invite on the show after we heard his inspirational story. Christopher went from homelessness to happiness and it was all thanks to photography! After neglecting his health around 2011, Christopher found himself in the hospital with doctors predicting he had less than a week to live.