Sandra Coan of Sandra Coan Photography is a film photographer focussing on maternity, infant and family photography in Seattle, USA. She has created a killer portrait photography business shooting film with no props and shares how you can do the same with your business in this interview.
In her “previous life,” Sandra was a kindergarten teacher and has since built a teriffic photography business over the last fifteen years. She takes a minimalistic approach to her photography and doesn't pose babies or use props – uncommon and refreshing in the genre of modern baby photography.
When visiting her website, everything you see was shot on film.
Sandra is also the co-founder and editor of Little Bellows – an online community of film photographers and soon to be a print magazine!
Here’s some of what we cover:
- Sandra's fascination for film and how it all started
- Transitioning from film to digital and back to film
- Why you must stick to what works for you and not be influenced by advancement in technology
- Why choose film over digital for a portrait photography business?
- Film or digital and determining which clients gets what
- Will your clients see or know the difference between film and digital finished artwork?
- The slower pace of shooting with film allows a better connection with your clients
- How to keep track of your film shots without missing that decisive moment
- The need to follow a consistent predictable routine when shooting film
- Portrait photography sales with a film based approach
- Portrait photography packages and sales and what's working now
- Why Sandra prefers to share her pricing on her website
- Sandra Coan's secret trick that lead to highly successful sales sessions
- Film workflow for running a successful business
- The benefits of creating bundle-packages to encourage repeat customers
- Why shooting with film can give you a better work-life balance
- Film and processing costs for a small business, is it viable today?
What’s on Offer for Premium Members
If you’re a premium member, you should have received an email with links to your version of this episode where you can hear lots more content and we dive deeper into some of the earlier topics plus some new ones that I pushed for and include:
- Why Sandra prefers no props when photographing babies
- How to stand out from your competition
- That miserable feeling when you feel the need to be doing what everybody else is doing
- Learning what you are good at is the real secret to a successful photography business
- The wake up call for Sandra to realise she needed to ditch wedding photography
- Learning to understand who your target portrait photography client is
- Why you must be clear about what you're good at instead of staying current with style trends
- How simply and easily to eliminate your competition from the equation
- Learn how to recognise why bookings are dropping
- How clients find Sandra's work
- The smartest marketing strategy Sandra has implemented in her portrait business
- What type of newsletters Sandra emails to her subscribers
- How often should you be emailing sales information in your newsletters?
- The best thing Sandra has done for her business
If you’re on the fence about becoming a premium member, join with the $1 trial today and get access to the FULL interview with Sandra, get access to an amazing back catalogue of interviews and ALL future interviews delivered automatically to your phone or tablet.
Plus, you'll have access to a members only Secret Facebook group where you'll connect with other members and previous interview guests to help, support and motivate you to take what you hear in each episode and put it into action.
You will not find more friendly, more motivated and caring photographers online.
What is your big takeaway?
Following this interview, I’d love to know what your biggest takeaway is – what is the one thing that you’d like to implement or learnt from what was shared? Let me know by leaving your thoughts in the comments below.
I just made the decision that I was not going to let myself fail – Sandra Coan
If you have any questions that I missed, a specific question you’d like to ask Sandra or if you just want to say thanks for coming on the show, feel free to add them below.
Lookout for the New Photo Xperiment Podcast
Following the success and support shown by listeners after the experimental format of the recent Ian Weldon interview, I've since released episode two of The Experimental Podcast featuring Roberto Valenzuela. Plans are underway to release more of these style of interview.
These guests won't be restricted to wedding and portrait photographers so please let me know if you have a photographer in mind by using the comment area below or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The plan for these interviews is to get into the headspace of the photographer and find what makes them tick, what drives them, their thought process, philosophy on shooting and how they achieve what they do with their photography. So yeah, a little technique type content too. These interviews will not focus on the business of photography – that'll be preserved solely for the weekly and unchanging format of the PhotoBizX podcast.
Another change with the new Photo Xperiment podcast is I will be exploring the possibility of sponsorship / advertising to help support the show.
Although I hope to produce thought provoking, entertaining and helpful interviews, I'm well aware, the content in the new podcast will not be a game changer for your business and the way you build a more profitable wedding or portrait photography business. It's more entertainment, motivation and hopefully a new way to look at your photography and why you do what you do.
For now, the podcast will live amongst the PhotoBizX episodes but I'm working on separating them onto their own feed and area on the PhotoBizX website.
The Photographers Digital Pack Fundraiser
Karen Alsop asked me to get behind the heART Project which helps families around Australia and the world find happiness through photography. Of course I said yes and added a 3 month Premium Membership to a very cool collection of digital downloads for photographers.
The complete pack is valued at over $750 and it's yours for $99!
It's only available until the 27th of May 2016.
Plus, there are bonus offers available for the first 250 purchasers.
Your $99 donation will go a long way to helping families and children who really do need it. You can learn more and purchase your bundle of goodies here: http://theheartproject.com.au/photobundle/
The sales from this pack will be going to Karley Miller who lived 17 years with severe epilepsy. Last year she underwent an operation that had a 50% chance of survival. The operation was to remove almost half her brain, which would cease the fits, and allow her to live a normal life. The operation was a success and Karley is now about to turn 18 and finally ready to make up for lost time.
Tiffinbox interview and my weird blinking
I stepped right out of my comfort zone recently and recorded an interview with Seshu from Tiffinbox. If you're not familiar with the site, Seshu collects, collates and shares easy to digest posts related to photographers that will get you thinking and inspired.
The tough part about this interview for me was being on the receiving end of the questions AND being on camera while answering them – not something I'm comfortable with. Give me the other side of the mic and camera any day.
I don't know what was happening with the funky blinking action… I swear, I don't do that in real life!
Here's the link if you'd like to check it out: http://tiffinbox.org/andrew-hellmich-tips-to-get-photo-business-exposed/
Shoot The Frame – Photo Competition
There is still a couple more weeks for you to enter the “Shoot the Frame” online photography competition.
I'll be the guest judge for this months entries which I expect will be difficult but fun.
Remember, there is a special deal Tristan (the competition founder) has put together for PhotoBizX listeners.
Head to shoottheframe.com/photobizx to enter and you'll get 3 entires for $10 (usually $15).
You can submit any combination of portraits, landscape or wildlife with your three photos and Tristan's guys will sort them into the correct categories.
At the very least, head over and have a look at this gorgeous gallery for the 2016 portrait winners – these are fantastic!
Oh yeah… if you enter, you can let me know but don't tell me anything about or show me your entry.
Some of the prizes on offer for this month: a 12 month free subscription to Squarespace, a free photo book, Canva design credits, cloud storage for your photos, Lightroom presets and more.
You can see all the prizes here: http://shoottheframe.com/sponsors-prizes/
iTunes Reviews and Shout-outs
Each week I check for any new iTunes reviews and it's always a buzz to receive these… for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, it's confirmation that I'm on the right track with the interviews and that they really are helping you improve your photography business. That's awesome!
Secondly, iTunes is the biggest search engine when it comes to podcasts and it's your reviews and ratings that help other photographers find PhotoBizX. More listeners means more interviews and ultimately a better show.
If you have left a review in the past, thank you!
If you haven't and you'd like to, head to https://photobizx.com/itunes and you can leave some honest feedback and a rating which will help both me and the show and I'll be sure to thank you on the show and add a link to your website or blog if you let me know the URL and your name like these photographers did:
In iTunes by Sherri Bramlett of The Image Workshop Too in the USA on April 20, 2016
I find myself going back and listening over and over again. Always great content with honest information, not fluffy, sugar coated encouragement. The range of professionals to the seasoned/super successful, to the we just started and this is what we are learning entrepenuers is so packed with information that everyone can use!
I have been going through a very rough 6 months during which I had to quit my “real” job to help care for my dad while trying to fulfill some other obligations. PhotoBizX podcasts were my “happy place” during that time. Now that I am trying to get back to photography and make it more full time, I am grateful for the knowledge, suggestions and challenges I continue to get from the interviews!!
Thanks so much Andrew, keep it coming!!
If you can do what you do really well, and you can know who your people are, and you can adequately communicate what you do, to your people, you're going to have a killer business – Sandra Coan
Inspiring and motivating
In iTunes by James Orr of Orr Media Co. In the USA on May 10, 2016
I love the way Andrew conducts, edits, and organizes these interviews. He asks all the right questions to get his amazing guests to share their secrets of the business.
The pro subscription is a must for anyone looking to improve quickly in their photography business
Want to Meet Up in Paris?
I'll be heading to France in July to see the Tour de France and ride my bike with a bunch of mates but have a few spare days at the end of July in Paris if you want to meet up?
I'll be free from the 28th – 30th July. At this stage I have no accommodation booked or any real plans except to go exploring with my camera.
If you're around or can be in Paris on one or more of these days, let's meet up for a couple of hours or more and go exploring together.
Alternatively, if you have any recommendations for me, things I must see, do, experience or photograph, please let me know in the comments area below or by email, email@example.com.
Links to people, places and things mentioned in this episode:
The First Little Bellows Film Retreat on May 24-26, 2016 in Portland, Oregon
The Missing Link: A Film Photographers Guide to Studio Strobes – workshop on everything you need to know about working with film and artificial light
Thanks again for listening to the show and thanks to Sandra for coming on and sharing so much about yourself, your approach to business, photography and why you're as successful as you are.
I think taking risks and really being true to what your vision is, and being smart about it is the best thing I've done – Sandra Coan
If you have any suggestions, comments or questions about this episode, please be sure to leave them below in the comment section of this post, and if you liked the episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the bottom of the post!
That’s it for me this week, hope everything is going well for you in life and business!
Thanks and speak soon