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Jane Sally & Mary – Part II

Today is Part II (see Part I) talking about the different stages of the photographer. So you are a Jane or Sally and you’re dying to meet Mary. So how might you improve your chances of making this happen?

1) Don’t be a closet fan. Leave comments on their blog posts, reply on Facebook threads and let her (or him) start to recognize your name.

2) Show Respect. If you truly appreciate Mary’s work, style and savvy business skills – you also must respect and value her time. None of us have enough of it and Mary is no exception. If you are hoping to reach out and mentor with a Mary, make it worth their while and acknowledge that they may just be too busy.

3) Don’t ask to be their competition. Asking a photographer to teach you all their secrets so that you can open up a shop down the street is never going to be a very wise plan for Mary to agree to… No matter how many compliments you add in. Try asking if you can assist or second at no charge (if your portfolio will make the grade).

4) Be ready to shell it out. Offer to pay her, heck offer to clean her house if you have to but understand that Mary is a busy girl, trying to keep a sensitive balance. Don’t think for one second that Mary owes you something because she’s made it, if anything it’s the exact opposite.

5) Be a true friend. Find things that you can do to help her and offer your services. i.e. “I noticed in today’s post you mentioned you were dying to find a great sushi restaurant… My husband and I love this place.”

6) Well thought out questions. If I had a dime for every time a question has come into my email box that could have been very easily answered with Google I’d be holding a Prada handbag by now. Don’t waste anyone’s time because you didn’t do your research. It won’t get you any points to suck up her very precious moments to work. Instead ask an intelligent question that shows thought into the process or her work.

I’m not going to make excuses for all of them, some photographers are just plain grouchy and unfortunately because a few have been burned, they feel justified. Other photographers are open and willing to share, never-ever-ever take advantage of that! And also realize that photographers are sharing all over the world wide web. We are in an industry that is saturated with workshops, seminars, blogs, websites…. So many incredible ways to learn and be inspired. And yes, I do realize that many of them require an investment and that can be hard, but I sincerely encourage you to budget for your education. Invest in getting yourself where you want to be and you’ll quickly find yourself moving out of the grid lock and onto the express.

To the Jane’s & Sally’s who might be reading this post. Take heart in knowing that we all took a turn as Jane or Sally. My best advise would be to continue to dream and dream big and than embrace who YOU are. DO you have a pen and paper? If not grab one! 

Study your strengths and weaknesses and come up with ideas on how you can exploit your strengths and downplay your weaknesses (while at the same time – if necessary – building your weaknesses into strengths). And if you know that there are things that you have or are doing that are not your own ideas, make it right. You will feel so much more proud of yourself when you know you are the authentic genius behind the idea.



  1. jamie says:

    Wanted to say that sometimes we are Sally or Jane’s, and at the same time also be a Mary in someone’s else eyes…. hmm… that too confusing? lol… (I am a Jane, but someone emailed me the other day asking if I would be willing to teach her a few things since she loves my work so much, so therefor, I am a Mary in her eyes, but in my eyes, I’m a Sally/Jane) So that Mary we all love so much, has probably got her own Mary to admire!! LOl… gosh this is getting out of hand… I’m going to stop now.

    • Leah Remillet says:

      Jamie, Jamie, Jamie. I LOVE IT!! You are so right on! Why didn’t I think to point that out.
      The first time I had someone treat me like a Mary (who am I kidding – every – time it happens)…. I giggle. It’s like I want to look over my shoulder just to check cause I’m sure someone amazing is standing behind me and I’ll be thanking myself for not making a total fool of my self to have thought they were talking about me!

      I hope hope hope beyond hope that EVERYONE who reads this will be extra kind when they get a chance to be Mary because they will remember how hard it was being Jane/Sally.

  2. Brook Fretheim says:

    Such an awesome post! Loved reading it, and it totally makes soo much sense. I have a passion for photography but its simply a hobby for me at home with my family. Maybe someday I would want to take my hobby into a business, and this post really put things into perspective, Thanks!

  3. Morgan says:

    I loved what Jamie said, I feel this all the time. I have people compliment me, and ask for my help. Every single one that asks for help tells me that they would like to take better pictures of their families. [I’m not so sure if I believe that every time I hear it!] But in my own mind I have my own people that I admire and I feel like I still haven’t made it yet.

    On the other side of it all, sometimes I just want a friend that is a photographer. Everyone in my area is so secretive and they don’t really talk to each other. Sometimes I just want to tell them, I don’t want to know how you do everything, I just want someone to talk to that stays up as late as I do, and has the same passion for photography. I know it probably sounds dorky, but I’m not sure how much more photography talk my sweet husband can handle. 🙂

    • Leah Remillet says:

      Morgan! I’m so glad you wrote the second statement cause that’s the next subject I’ve been wanting to cover! Great lead in lady!
      I am beaming… Cause you nailed it sister and I’m gonna address that for you (and me)! 🙂

      • Morgan says:

        Thanks for having the best blog ever! Seriously… Almost every time I am having a hard time with something you blog about it a few days later.

  4. I think it is good to keep in mind that everyone (in every profession or hobby) has been a Sally/Jane at some point. And hopefully, we can all get to the point that we are someone’s Mary. But how to handle each of these roles is what counts most. I like how Jamie said that even our Mary’s have their own Mary’s. Use your favorite photographers for inspiration, not for copying.
    When I started out, I had a huge list of photogs that I liked. (I mean huge list of bookmarked pages that I would look at more than I care to admit.) And they were all so different and I had so many that I got little bits of inspiration from each of them and tried not to directly copy any of them. I definitely found a few who’s work I really liked and still check out their sites every once in a while, but I don’t check all the time like I did. It actually got me a little down on myself thinking that I’ll never be like so and so, or I’ll never learn how to do this or that. Once I realized that it didn’t matter what any other photographers were doing, I found out what I liked and stopped worrying about anyone else.

    Great posts Leah. Sorry I was a secret stalker for so long 🙂

    • Leah Remillet says:

      Cherie! You sweet heart! I’m just so glad that I really know you now (from the Building the Biz Workshop – to those reading this). Thank you for your comments… they make me happy!

      I too had a list that was RE-DONK-U-LOUS!!! I stopped checking for a while (more than making a contious choice not to – I honestly just didn’t have time) and now I am looking and I’m loving it because I see more now! I see light and I see processing techniques and I see angles… I also see how far I’ve come in 2 years and that gives me hope!

  5. Spanki Mills says:

    AGREE! i really want so badly for a group of friends that understand where i am coming from. from my computer messing up, or my camera settings, or just how to juggle family and work. but someone who is not competitive and is confident with themselves enough to visit whole heartedly with a FRIEND and not have to hold anything back… morgan, e-mail me… i will be your friend 🙂

  6. Kristen S says:

    Thank you for this series of posts. I’m a Jane/Sally at this point, but would love to be a Mary one day. 😉

  7. this just happened to me recently ….
    i have to say it felt weird but also really great that i could help someone else out instead of always looking for answers for my stuff- i was actually able to answer questions myself and help out!!!
    it felt awesome !!

  8. Morgan says:

    So excited! I’m emailing you today Spanki!
    Cherie, we can all be friends… the more the merrier!

  9. Jamie says:

    I totally get the “I wish I had photog friends” thing! Just yesterday I was really struggling with how to handle a situation with a client and I thought, “Man, I really wish I had someone who understands that I could talk to!” Cherie, I love the idea of forming a group!

    • Leah Remillet says:

      And how awesome that you two already know each other from the workshop — you two should def be helping each other out! It makes me so happy!

  10. Christine says:

    LOVE this post. NEEDED this post. Perfect timing for me. Thanks Leah. Can’t wait to hear ideas on how I can make some photog friends. I need some friends, I have none : ( (ha ha)!

  11. Amy says:

    Thanks for the insight! I recently (Jan 2010) started my own photography business and feel VERY much like all of these characters. I’m glad to know that I’m not alone. I’m also encouraged that someday all of my hard work as an entreprenuer in the photography realm will pay off!!!

  12. Casey says:

    I really enjoy this post. I have had so many people ask me for advice that they themselves could have figured out with a quick google search. It’s also really frusterating when you see your ideas being copied by local competition. At the same time, I think it’s wonderful to help those hardworking aspiring photographers, and non-pro’s who just want a little advice. Great thoughts! 🙂

  13. Jamie- email me, lets get together, really. I have some things I’d like to run by you too.This makes me happy!!

  14. Lloryn says:

    Geez… this is a great series of post! I don’t even know where to begin but i’m definitely in the sally phase and have the e-mail to prove it lol. and maybe i’m the only one but it’s encouraging to hear that the mary’s out there still sometimes feel like the jane’s and sally’s.

  15. Ileia says:

    Leah, what a wonderful series of posts. I think that this will resonate with so many people. I was lucky enough to meet my Mary, and she is incredible! Took me under her wing, pointed me in the right direction, and shared her precious time with me. (It did help that we both had plans to relocate already in place, lol so there was no “training the competition”.) I hope that someday I have the chance to pass that generosity on to someone who asks for my help.

    Anyways, I think YOU are pretty great too! Thank you for sharing all the amazing things you share with us 🙂 I just recently discovered your blog and I LOVE it!

    • Leah Remillet says:

      Thanks Ileia! :*) I had the same things happen when I first started… my very first Mary was moving out of the state while I was moving into it so I got to meet her and learn from her (for a price).

  16. jamie says:

    OMG. same here with the photographer being so secretive, the competition I have add me as a friend on facebook, then ask my clients how much i’m charging them, then she says she doesn’t know me, the other day, she told one of my friends (she obviously didn’t know that she was my friend) but told her that she hated my guts for stealing her clients (I don’t go to clients, clients come to me) and she says, “will see who stays in business longer” that same person steals my ideas and locations and ohhh man, it’s so hard, and all i want to do is have photographer friends 🙁 But I’m being good, the other day I commented on one of her photos she did that was really nice, told her that I loved that shot… i’m sure this is pissing her off more then if i would of written something negative! lol… but really, I believe there is room for two photographers in this small town!

    • Leah Remillet says:

      Jamie. You’re awesome and you’re right. There is more than room for two! I am in a crazy over saturated market and I’ve never cared to pay attention to what any of the local photogs are doing outside of hanging out with me and I won’t ever care. I work on my little bubble and hope that there little bubbles are getting bigger for them too. There is plenty to go around and this notion that there isn’t is plain RIDICULOUS! When people make those kind of comments I have 2 thoughts…. #1 you need to come to my workshop or schedule a consult cause I can help you NEVER “loose” a client again. #2. you need to again to my workshop and or schedule a consult so I can help you realize the incredible potential for new clients that are ALL around you.

  17. Krystal says:

    Leah, I have an angle that I want your thoughts on. If a person decides to stop looking at other photographers work all together what do they use as a marker for their growth? What I mean is, if you have nothing at all to compare your work to how do you know your on target? I know you can join a forum and get CC. But to be honest there are not that many people with skill that take the time to respond to CC posts and there are LOTS of people who want CC. I don’t want to fly about like a loose canon thinking I’m on target and six months later go “Oh wow, my work is crap and I should have been_____” Am I making sense?

    • Leah Remillet says:

      Absolutely making sense! First off, I’m all for looking and being inspired. I don’t look in my area – mainly because there isn’t someone who I’m trying to aspire to here but also it avoids all together me thinking… hmmm I wonder where they shot that at. 😉

      Here’s one thing that maybe people will or won’t agree… I look at people who are AMAZING, the top in the industry – (think Inspire me interview type photogs). Because although I probably won’t ever get to that level… I’m going to strive for it and study it and dream about it because that’s where the true bar has been set! What the gal in your town who isn’t anything to put on Rangefinder but still puts out good work… That’s not the bar.

      Helpful? Did I even come close to answering your question?

  18. Lacey says:

    A great post! Hope it is widely read!

  19. Angela says:

    Leah, this was a super fabulous post…so well written. I used to be OBSESSED with my Mary and wanted to be exactly like her! {In fact, I still cringe at an email I sent her asking about processing! Wish I could take it back!!}.
    I think that is natural for any artist to have those feelings. When first learning your craft the only way to learn is by emulation. It is only once you have the basics down and can fly on your own can you really start finding out who you are! So in the early stages of learning I think copying is a good thing but once you launch your business and find yourself still copying 6mo to a year in, it might be time to step back and assess whether or not you are putting in the work to know who you are. I used to look at dozens and dozens of blogs a week but I’ve narrowed it down to a small handful now because it took up way too much of my time and made me depressed!!
    My top inspirations right now are actually wedding photogs (a market I am not in nor have any current aspirations to tap into) and so I go to them when I need a pause….to rest my brain and just smile at the beauty they create.
    Having friends in the business is so vital. I felt so lost until I crossed paths with some amazing girls in the business. I’m very thankful for my lifelines who I can call or text whenever about whatever in the business. My husband can only take so much of my photog chatter before his eyes start to glaze over a bit! HAHAHAHA!!!

    Thank you Leah for having this blog!!!!! You are amazing! So thankful for you!!

  20. Adrienne says:

    I’m catching these posts a little late because of vacation and WOW… great posts Leah! Thank you!

  21. kelli taylor says:

    Thanks so much Leah for both the Jane, Sally, Mary posts! I think most of us feel like Sally’s and have Mary’s, even the Mary’s have Mary’s! ha! Sometimes I think I should stop checking other photographers blogs and put 110% of my energy into myself. It’s hard, though, because other photographers can be so inspiring and I feel like I would be missing out somehow.

  22. Maggie says:

    I want to be/have that kind of photographer friend too! I want to be able to connect with other photogs who can relate to where I am in life, family, business, etc. This was a great post Leah!

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