Chasing Light Artistic Tools for Creatives

Business Corner with Pamela Jean - April 2018

Business CornerNikki HarrisonComment
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Lets get to know a bit about Pamela.

You have been a partner in a very successful Portrait Studio in Tulsa, OK for many years, as well as long before that in another state.  More specifically, you are the reason behind the success of the business side of the company.

What set your methods apart from the rest?  2018 began my 29th year in the photography industry.  From day one, I viewed my studio as a business.  Not a hobby, or a personal passion, at the age of 21 I became a business owner, that is in the business of photography.  My mindset out of the gate had nothing to do with my hobby or love for getting behind the camera.  It was always about providing for and feeding my family.

Where do you think your methods exceed where others fail?  The intense business mind and drive to make a living and provide for my family, I believe is the difference.  I am able to balance the creative mind and the logic business mind.  It doesn’t matter how incredible an artists work is if they cannot make a living creating their art, their efforts are for naught. 

What is the first piece of advice you would give to a photographer who feels they are ready to open shop, and start charging?  First and foremost, understand what it means to be running a business.  You are not just a photographer, you are a business owner.  If a photographer doesn’t understand what their Cost of Doing Business is, they will fail.  Pricing, sales goals and marketing strategy decisions must be made based on how much it costs to run a business.

What is the number one thing you see photographers in business doing, that causes them to have lower sales?  Hands down confidence in themselves, their self worth and ability to stand up for themselves and charge what their business requires them to charge.  There is a disconnect there.  I always say “Kindness is not a Business Plan.”

Marketing is not a one size fits all.  Every market is different and comes with its own set of struggles and opportunities.  What would you suggest as a marketing opportunity that would work widely for most markets?  Marketing is so complex and there really isn’t one thing, or an easy answer.  It takes many campaigns, utilizing many avenues.  I do believe in Charity Style Marketing, this can be targeted very specific to a studios target client.

How do photographers get out of their own way?  Most photographers lack a business plan, end goal and confidence in their ability to charge a certain amount of money for their work.

The world is changing so much, social media, digital photography, iphone photographers, etc.  Do you think the High School Senior market is slowing?  I definitely see a change and shift in the senior market.  I can’t say that it is slowing, but it is evolving from traditional senior portrait sessions to unique “reality tv” style of experiences and photo shoots.

Do you think Instagram has changed how our youth value photography?  Yes for sure.  Today’s youth is inundated with pictures.  Beautiful portraits have gotten lost and devalued in the shuffle of social media.  However, I still believe today’s youth appreciates experiences, professionalism and desire to feel good in front of the camera.

Does one need to live in a metropolis these days to be successful?  Not necessarily, there are pros and cons to metropolis based studios and small town based studios.  I think there is a business model to accommodate either.

I have heard many times lately that art doesn’t sell, the only photographic styles that sell are classic portraits, family and children.  Do you believe this to be true?  I believe art is very sellable, but is an extreme niche’ orientated.  Very specific marketing to create desire and build and audience is imperative.  I would expect art will take longer to reach and touch the general population.  Do you have any advice for photographers that prefer to offer a more artistic style?  Building the desire to create a more specific niche’ body of work, will take more time to reach the target audience, a marathon not a sprint.  My suggestion would be to establish a business plan that encompasses the art and traditional portraiture.   Building the desire for the art along the way.  While supporting the business with the income of the traditional portraiture.  Over time, if effectively done, the artist will be able to transition into creating the desired art only.

You offer mentoring and business packages for new, as well as mid to late level career photographers, to guide them and assist them with sales and marketing their company.  This is an invaluable service and not widely available.  How can potential clients find you and get in touch to discuss you helping them?  I have a drive for helping photographers see their value,  change mindsets and assist in building profitable businesses.  I can be emailed at 

I love and adore you as a business woman and as a dear friend.  Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and knowledge with everyone!  Nikki, you sincerely are a soul sister to me.  Our paths were meant to cross and I am thankful beyond words.  Your pure talent puts me in awe.  I love and adore your work, I am one of your biggest fans!