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Rock as a Photographer – Without even Clicking the Shutter

Alex Stead of  Newfoundland, Canada has a self described thriving photography business and she’s not even 18 years old yet. Paying for her education through photography, Alex is ready to take on the world. When Alex first emailed me, she told me she had a different perspective then what I’d seen because she started her business two years ago at the age of fifteen! What were you doing at fifteen? I don’t think I was doing to much either?!  Today Alex is going to share some inspiring suggestions on how to stand out in your marketplace without even using your camera.


Treat your clients like toddlers who just learned to potty. No, I don’t mean that you should talk to your clients in baby talk or change their diaper, but make them feel like the most awesome people in the world. Some clients come into my studio (er, home) and right from the start, they’re interested. They’re totally into this photography thing, they’re happy and excited. These clients are awesome! It’s easy to be excited with them, have a great session and get great referrals from them because their excitement is intoxicating. But sometimes, you get clients (or even one spouse, or a client’s child) who isn’t too happy with the whole situation. It’s your job to change their mind and get them excited about photography. Be excited for them. Be happy. Take their suggestions, as weird as they may actually be, and make them feel super cool for suggesting such a cool thing. It is your job as a photographer to make your clients feel like complete awesomesauce – even when they wet their pants. Word of mouth referrals go far, baby. Some things that you can do to make people feel awesome:

– Give every single one of your clients a thank you letter, telling them just how awesome they are.

– Blog about their awesome-ness.

– Go on Facebook and talk about how great a session you just had (and tag them in the post).

– Send surprise gifts.


Stand out in your field by standing in another field. Are you a good photographer? Be a great writer, a great scrapbooker, or a great listener. Whatever you do naturally, do something else. I have real reasoning for this, so hear me out. If all you do is photograph – how are you any different from the THOUSANDS of other photographers out there? How will your blog be successful if all you do is take pictures? How will you be able to talk to other with different interests if you have no other interests? Be versatile. Talk about things that nobody has ever heard of. The saying goes, if you can’t be the best at something, be the first at something else. Don’t talk about things in the same way that other people do. Tackle a different subject. Instead of just photographing weddings/children/whatever else you do day in and day out, get out of your comfort zone and go talk to a homeless person. Or do something equally different than general photography stuff, like make a scrapbook about cats, or write an article on lampshades. Put that on your blog along with pictures. Talk about your new hobby. Create excitement. It will help you generate more traffic, your regular readers will be astounded by your worldly abilities, and overall you will draw in people who may normally not have been drawn to you. Some suggestions on how to do this:

-Start a cool work-out regime and blog about your goals

– Help out with a charity (this is cool cause you get to help the world. Just remember to always put the charity FIRST – never do something just for publicity)

– Start cooking, and either blog it/incorporate it into your business

– Collect something and showcase it in your studio/office where you meet with clients (there’s a good chance they’ll ask about it!)

– Research something you’re interested in. Share your findings with your clients and blog readers.


Be vulnerable.

This one should be pretty basic, but for a lot of people, it isn’t. Everybody tries to stand out by being the best. We flaunt and show off (even when we’re not trying to) by showing our best photos, our best days. But people aren’t perfect, and as humans we are drawn to other non-perfect people. We are hit with so many products and ads and magazines that tell us that we need to be better, so to get something that is totally real is a breath of fresh air. It’s refreshing to hear someone say that they’re not great and they make mistakes. If you become vulnerable, people will be drawn to you because you are just like they are. Suggestions on how to be vulnerable:

– Do a year-end blog post on BAD photos, and laugh at them

– Talk about a fear you have

– Chat about a bad day or a bad week, and how to change it (just did this one myself – felt really refreshing to get it off my chest!)

– Share things that you would normally not share because you were always afraid people would think you’re weird

– Talk about a mistake you made starting out, and how you overcame it

You don’t need to be an amazing photographer to stand out – but you do need to step outside of the box! I’d love to hear your tips and tricks on how you stay different!



  1. I love the idea about doing a year end review of my bad photos! Sadly it would be quite a long blog post….~ Great job with this article!

  2. Ashley says:

    Ok, should I be angry that I’m taking advice from someone who hasn’t even graduated high school? 😉
    I loved the blog tips and actually try really hard to be a real person, not just a “hey, look how good I am!” person. I recently showcased my outtakes from a session with my kids to show that I can’t get it right every shot either! My readers loved it!
    Good on you Alexandra and keep doing what you love!

  3. Stephanie says:

    Great article Alex! I looked at your blog and website. You are truly an amazing photographer and such an inspiration. Keep up the great work.

  4. Kalli says:

    I am ASTOUNDED by how great these images are, and how great her business sense is! She’s going to be going far in this world–and speaking at WPPI next year! 🙂

  5. Regina Marie says:

    This is so inspiring, thank you so much! Not only is it amazing because of the info, but because of you sharing some of your history with us. I have a 12 year old who wants to join me in photography as well, and hearing about you starting off at just 15… WOW! I would love to hear more about it. What challenges you faced and how to overcome them…


  6. Rhonda says:

    Such a great post. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Idie says:

    Great post! Teen or not, these are some really helpful tips.

  8. Brandi says:

    A really great post!!

  9. samantha says:

    Wow. Great ideas, thank you!

  10. Paula says:

    wow, thanks so much for sharing so many simple ideas that make the difference!
    I always have difficulties when it comes to write on my blog. I think I complicate it too much. 😉

  11. Emily krbec says:

    This is a fabulous post! Thanks for sharing Alex!

  12. Amy says:

    this girl is definetley someone we should all keep an eye on… i predict great things for her 😀

  13. Love the post! A great reminder that little things go a long way! Thanks for sharing!

  14. Alex says:

    Wow, thank you all for your inspiring comments, I can’t stop smiling! 🙂

  15. Belinda says:

    I was actually last night searching for new Blogs to add to my weekly reading list when I asked myself what draws me to certain photographers over others. Then today I came here, and my questions showed up in this article!! Great advice Alex, I’m heading over to your Blog right now and will be keeping in mind all of your points while I write mine!

  16. Great post, Alex. You’ve inspired me to continue my personal blog which has become woefully neglected as I’ve concentrated on my photography instead. 🙂 Thanks for the insight!

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