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How To Run an Ethical Photography Business.

There is so much I love about the photography industry.  

I love art.  

I love what this career has given me.  

I love the life I’ve been able to build because of what I do.  

And I’ve met some truly creative, wonderful people because of this job.

But like all industries, the photography space has a dark side as well.  It can be very competitive.  And competition can sometimes bring out the worst in people. 

So, on today’s episode, I want to talk about how to stay above it all, and run an ethical photography business that is inline with you and your values.

I LOVE the photography industry. I have made incredible friends. I have had wonderful experiences with other photographers, and I have had really hurtful ones

From copying, to undercutting to doing things that just aren’t ethical or nice, I’m sad to say that over the past 25 years in business, I’ve seen it all.  And I’ve experienced a lot.  Even from people who I thought were friends.

I had one really, really hurtful experience happen in 2006. I was pregnant with my twins, so already feeling pretty vulnerable, and deceived and had my intellectual property stolen from people I considered friends.  It was terrible.  It sent me into pre-term labor actually, and I decided then, that I wasn’t going to play the “alls fair in love and business” game.  That doesn’t align with me or my values. These are the rules I decided to play by instead.

#1 Stay in integrity.

For me, that meant putting on blinders and I recommend you do the same

Focus on what YOU do, not what someone else is doing.  

Stay away from trends.  

Stop looking at your competition and instead focus on your voice and your vision.

Focusing on what YOU do is good for your mental health… it’s going to help you stay in integrity because you will not be influenced by others! 

It’s also really good for your business.  

When you focus on YOU, overtime you will develop a signature style, and having a signature style is how you will stand out from the others.  

#2 Find a community that is actually supportive, not one that just talks about it.  

There is a lot of lip service given to the importance of “community” these days.  And while that is great, make sure that the communities you align yourself with actually means it. 

The very sad truth is there is A LOT of exaggerated success being shared on the internet.  Half-truths, inflated revenue numbers, false testimonials. You name it, I’ve seen, and even by people who should know better.

Healthy communities do not gate keep.  They do not lie or exaggerate to make money.  And they are built on a foundation of honest work.

I believe SO strongly in this.

Everything I teach I have done myself, learned myself and used in my own business.  I am the expert at what I do… and so that is what I teach and what I share.  I will never teach something that I’m not an expert in, just to make a buck.

And I share EVERYTHING with the students I teach.  Honestly, this is one of my favorite parts about Certification. That program literally teaches EVERYTHING I have learned over that past 25 years.  Lighting, posing, processing, portfolio curation, branding, marketing, all of it…. So you learn all of it, not just pieces.

And we have a zero gate keeping culture.  Our members learn from each other as well as from me.  It’s incredible to watch.

#3 Create boundaries and stick to them

Oh man… this one has taken me YEARS to learn, so please take it from me.  Set boundaries.  And stick to them.

Business boundaries about when you work, when you answer emails, what you will and won’t say yes to, will help you grow a long, reliable career.

But personal boundaries too.  Around how you’re treated.  Around what you will and will not accept from the people around you, including your friends and your clients, will keep you from getting caught up in some of the messiness that can come with working in a creative and competitive industry.

It took me a long time to learn that one!

As always I’d love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to send me a DM on Instagram!  I love chatting with my listeners.  And be sure to get your name on the waitlist for Sandra Coan Certification.  We’re opening enrollment again in May, and the invitations to apply always go to the waitlist first! Follow the link and get your name on the waitlist for Sandra Coan Certification.