Reasons Photography Mentors are Essential to your Business

Reasons Photography Mentors are Essential to your Business, best photography mentors and teachers, wedding photography workshops, photography studio, Katelyn James Photography, Heidi Hope Photography, Jasmine Star, Helen Don Photography, XO Sarah, Elle & Co., Zach and Jody Photography

When I began my photography business in 2009, there were no blogs on "How to Start a Photo Business." Remember, I started this journey before social media was a marketing must-have, before Pinterest beat photographers to the punch, with ideas, and before I had a family of my own.  See, I had plenty of time then, and as the business grew, so did everything around me!

There are plenty of things I did wrong in this journey, believe me!  However, there were so many mentoring experiences that were well-worth my time and for some, my investment. These mentors, at some point, calmed my overwhelmed, entrepreneurial nerves, and pushed me to grow my business.

Favorite Mentors for Wedding Photographers

1. Katelyn James Photography.
Katelyn, who has no idea that we're on a first-name basis, was my first wedding photog-crush :).  I found her on Pinterest, showing off her home office, and I think I spent hours, looking at her beautiful wedding images. She was young, educated, and her photography style was something I had envisioned for my own portfolio. Katelyn, along with her husband, Michael Alsop, recently offered two KJ Education Online Courses; KJ Consistency Course and KJ Posing Course.  

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The Consistency Course re-focused my Lightroom editing, taught me shortcuts I never knew existed, and helped me edit weddings much faster, while defining my own photography style.  

Since posing clients isn't always easy to explain at a session, Katelyn's Posing Course was simple to remember direction, and also helped me feel more confident perfecting poses while creating a memorable client experience for my couples!

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That photo above is likely to change soon, since Michael, Katelyn, and Bokeh, are welcoming a baby girl within the month!  I'm sure they will be taking a break from business, but sign up for the wait list - you won't be sorry!

2. Zach and Jody Gray.
Another husband-wife-wedding-photography-duo, Zach and Jody Gray offer educational resources for photographers on all things business.  What I love about their business, is how they provide video workshops for wedding photographers, covering the mechanical side, like off-camera-flash (OFC).  

I purchased their "Low Light Receptions Made Easy," at the end of 2016, and I was able to apply their systematic lighting process to one reception, and I noticed the huge difference it made.  Artificial light was scary to me, and I played safe, especially at weddings.  This video workshop gave me the confidence to try new things - and it made those "fun reception shots" even better!  I also loved being able to watch this from home, instead of traveling far!

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Their workshop includes tutorials on the photography gear they use, along suggestions for many lighting scenarios at receptions.  I have my wish-list filled out and ready to order for our 2017 wedding season!

3. Jasmine Star.
This fancy business woman will come up again, later in this post, and for good reason, or course!  I remember sitting at my computer in 2010, the night before my first-paid-wedding. I stayed up late, listening to all of Jasmine Star's videos.  Her soothing voice, confidence, and knowledge made me feel like she was talking directly to me, telling me that I could do this! Sound crazy? Go listen to one of her "Shooting Star" videos on Youtube.  See, you love her too, now. You're welcome.  

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I purchased a couple of her printed  resources, focusing on wedding client communication and workflows.  I doubled my wedding bookings the following year!

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I went on to purchase some of her video workshops, specifically, Posing and Shooting with Wide Apertures, How to Shoot a First Look, Best Practices for Photographing the Bridal Party.  Now, the best part of her videos?  They are short in length.  Some videos I played on my phone while I curled my hair before photographing a wedding day.  The second-best part?  They are cheap!  This talented lady obviously doesn't want to make herself rich off of helping other photographers - you can tell it's something she was made to do!  I paid less than $9 for three videos.  You're probably losing money not buying them!  It's a no-brainer!

favorite Mentors for Photographers with Studio Space

1. Heidi Hope Photography | Photographer Rising.
When I met Heidi, I may have accidentally admitted she was "like a celebrity to me." I guess it could have been worse, right? I traveled to Providence, RI, last spring to the Heidi Hope Photography Studio, and learned so much about subject placement indoors, finding necessary, natural light, and overcoming my insecurity about styling my own studio sets. Not to mention, her studio is beautiful, with such a welcoming atmosphere!

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Heidi eased my mind, by showing my group to follow our "art," and how to rediscover and appreciate my small studio space.  Since this was an in-person workshop, our group was able to shoot a cake smash and maternity session, a twin milestone session, along with a newborn session.  Watching someone else work, in a similar fashion, was a reminder that I am doing things right, but she also pinpointed the elements of my business that I wanted to strengthen, like my Baby's First Year Plan

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Heidi was a former high school teacher, as well, so her background was so similar to mine, it made me even more sure about where my career path has landed. She's also a mother, so she understands family time and being your own boss.

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I'm excited to learn more from Heidi in April, as part of her "Artist Rising," a six-day online apprenticeship, building creativity and set design techniques.  If you look at Heidi Hope's Pinterest, you will know why anyone would love to learn from her!

2. Helen Don Photography.
If Helen lived closer, she and I would be drinking too much wine together, I just know it!  I read Helen's business story in Click Magazine. She wrote an article about scheduling and balancing home/work, which completely spoke to me at the time. I looked her up on Instagram, went to her site, saw she offered mentoring, and we set up an over-the-phone-workshop, which helped me with my pricing, time, client correspondence, and confidence in this profession. 

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There were so many aspects of my business that I didn't know how to change, but after five-one-hour-phone-sessions with Helen Don, I finally felt at peace with pricing, which tied closely to my time.

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Favorite Mentors for Blogging, Business Promotion, and Marketing

1. XO Sarah.
I've been receiving newsletters from Sarah Morgan for some time, and as they make their morning arrival to my inbox, the subject line always catches my attention. This girl is knowledgable on the other side of a photography business - blogging, and all of the "stuff" that's hard to find, like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), blogging strategies to ensure people are actually reading what you've worked so hard on, and how to save images correctly for Pinterest and other social media outlets.

She offers, "Dare to Blog," a free course to help get your blog off the ground. I am currently enrolled in, "Dare to Grow," and probably wouldn't have written this blog you're reading right now, if I hadn't taken it.  I finally have a disciplined blogging system, rather than a random post, here and there, featuring photo sessions that you can see easily on other media outlets.

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So far, this course has proven to be effective, as I have received more Pins, "likes," an increase in blog traffic, and access to a private Facebook group, where my classmates can share ideas, challenges, and solutions. Sarah also provides help to anyone's questions within minutes, and has great advice for blog/web design, post ideas, and streamlining the process!

2. Jasmine Star.
Here she is again, and for a completely different reason!  It's obvious Jasmine is a talented wedding photographer, but she began helping all creative entrepreneurs grow their social media with her "Insta180 Challenge."  While I haven't taken that course yet, (that's my next goal....enrollment isn't open right now.), Jasmine is someone who inspires me with her helpful approach to market a business correctly.  I also receive her e-newsletter, which is always a welcomed, business-savvy nudge in the right direction.

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Jasmine Star is someone you will need as you grow - she's kind, inspiring, and successful!  Go follow her Instragram, if you are not already!

3. Elle & Co.
I gladly stumbled onto Lauren Hooker's website, Elle & Co. from Pinterest a couple years ago, when I was making the transition to move my website to Squarespace.  Her knowledge of design was exactly what I was looking for, and her free Ellechat webinars helped me design my brand, create an online presence, streamline web pages, and embrace productivity.  

As these are all topics that continue to change, Lauren is fantastic at keeping up!  She gives great direction and I can appreciate all of the time she puts into helping other small business professionals.

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I recently watched her Ellechat, "Effectively Scheduling Your Work Week". Since working for yourself means a flexible, but full schedule, I trust her advice and suggestions as a mentor. 


I'm sure there are many photo industry professionals, whom I didn't mention.  Who have you learned from?  How has it helped your business grow?  
I would love to hear!  Leave your feedback in the comments below!

Dana Marquart

Photogenics on Location, 100 West Front Street, Washington, MO, 63090