Saray Taylor-Roman shares her experiences in The Portrait System Magazine. Her feature gives insight and advice about the business and creative side of photography.
What has been your greatest hurdle as a photographer?
My greatest hurdle as a photographer was embracing the artist within me. For the longest time, I considered myself just a businesswoman with a camera. It was not until I started submitting to The Portrait Masters that I realized I could be both.
I submitted clients’ work with the only goal of reaching accreditation. However, the positive feedback I received from world renowned portrait masters allowed me to realize that being a successful businesswoman and an awarded portrait artist were not mutually exclusive titles.
What would you say to people who are getting started?
To those of you getting started, I would say trust the system and the process. Everything you need to succeed as a boutique portrait photographer is in Sue Bryce Education. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. I’m a polyglot and I compare this to learning a language. When you start learning a language, you don’t go and do your thing. There is a lot of repetition involved, a lot of mimicking, a lot of doing the same thing over and over until you can come up with your own sentences.
It’s the same with this. Do the 12-week startup. Do the steps week by week. Keep at it. It wasn’t until the end of my second year that I started making changes based on my personality and what I observed worked best for me and my clients. Now, everything from lead acquisition to marketing to photoshoot process to sales to the last step with every client is highly customized to what works for me and I find is efficient and as profitable as possible. But it didn’t start that way. Enjoy the process. That’s the fun part!
What is the best advice you have ever received about being in business?
In my third year in business, I read a book called E-Myth, and it was probably the best advice I’ve read since then. It was about treating my baby business as if I was about to sell it. At first, I could not even fathom the idea of selling this amazing business! I mean, are you kidding me? This is the type of work I would do even if I didn’t get paid. However, the point of the book was to systematize the business to such a degree it could function without me, and that if I ever decided to (gasp!) sell it, I could.
This hasn’t happened over night. I’m on my sixth year and things are finally falling into place. I have now a couple salespeople who have an average sale of $3000. And I have an associate photographer who can take work in my absence. And I’m in the process of opening a second location in a place that I absolutely love to visit and vacation once a month. While at first the goal was to replace my teaching job, once I understood what being a business owner meant, I didn’t just want a job, I wanted a life of financial and time freedom and that meant having a business I could sell one day.
How do you define your style?
My style depends on who I’m photographing. As a portrait photographer I specialize in personal branding and fine art. I love to work with professionals looking to set themselves apart in their industry. This work is modern, inviting, and magazine-like. My fine art work, which has been internationally awarded, is about creating magical visual narratives that help my clients celebrate a milestone in their lives. This work is highly creative, and it stems out of a dialogue between my clients, their desires, their fears, and/or their aesthetics, and my skillset and imagination. It’s absolutely exhilarating getting to create unique pieces for and with my clients. BEST job ever!
What gives you the greatest joy in your work?
I get the most joy when I work with anyone who does not believe they are photogenic because I love to show them otherwise. It never gets old when they see themselves for the first time through my eyes, and they see what I saw in them. When it comes to business coaching, my favorite part is when my clients see the potential they have and start taking action to realize their dreams.