BOUDOIR BUSINESS INSTRUCTION BY KARA MARIE
Hey there, my fellow badass of the lens! Thanks for stoppin' by!
Throughout my decade-long career as a photographer, I have thrived in two VERY different markets, I have been booked to capacity, I have ONLY been on an upward trajectory of earnings from year to year, and I have never, EVER stopped collecting knowledge on this industry. Running a bustling boudoir studio and being an actual full-time working boudoir photographer most definitely add to my ability to be able to teach relevant material boudoir photographers in all stages of their journey.
While my work has continued to evolve and improve, it is my passion for providing outstanding customer service and running a sustainable, successful business that are my teachable strengths to others.
If you're frustrated with your business, if you're trying to specialize in boudoir, if you don't understand why your inbox is empty, if you aren't making enough money, if you feel like the market you're serving just cannot afford you, then: let's chat, dahhling!
1:1 Mentoring Workshop
Here's the deal: Anytime I have been to a photography workshop, I've always yearned for more one-on-one time with the instructor, and more catered learning. My solution to helping other photographers WITHOUT being a full-time educator, WITHOUT sacrificing my shoot time, all while MAXIMIZING the benefit for the "mentee" photographer is my 1-day intensive one-on-one workshop. This is SUPER comprehensive AND customized, y'all.
We will discuss your business as it is now, as well as where you want it to be. I'll do a review of your website, social media, and portfolio and create an action plan for you to improve all of those facets of your business. Also covered throughout the program is unlimited email Q&A, a brief look at your pricing and sales process, post-processing, portfolio building, client experience, and the shoot process if it would be helpful to you. There is no magic pill to having a successful business, so you should be prepared to work for it. Having a day with me will not automatically rock your business…but it will give you the tools that you need to begin kicking boudoir booty if you work for it.
If you have the ability to travel to Austin for your mentorship, it is also an option to add-on a shoot to learn even more about the process of shooting boudoir. Putting yourself in front of my camera is a really immersive way to learn about providing your clients with excellent direction, customer service, and a personalized boudoir experience. I recommend having your shoot the day before our workshop date as it’s a great way to start the learning.
For those unable to travel to Austin, we are able to arrange a long-distance mentorship with the help of video chats, emails, and phone calls.
If you are ready to catapult your boudoir business in the right direction, this is for you! Because of the time commitment, I can only take a very limited number of mentor partnerships each year. My all day one-on-one workshop is $3000+tax and can be broken down into 4 payments of $750+tax. Mentorships are available only to photographers NOT in the Austin area or immediate vicinity. The session fee for the shoot add-on is $500 additional.
Want to find out my availability for a mentorship? Let's chat!!
I get countless daily messages via e-mail and social media from photographers who are just looking for a quick answer. I don’t have the means to answer every question that comes my way, every time it does….so you’ve likely been directed to this page as a response to a question you’ve asked that is covered here! Ahhhh, see? It’s all about efficiency. Read on, my inquisitive friend….read on.
Q: Do you accept mentorships? Will you mentor me!?
A: Short answer: On a very limited basis, yes. And….maybe. Long answer: We run a very bustling little studio that is very full-time. Mentorships are incredibly rewarding and I love them, but they also are quite time consuming as I do take each one very seriously. If I know that my busy schedule would cause me to half-ass your mentorship, I will decline it. It just isn’t fair to you to only have half of my preparation time and attention. Before I accept any mentorship request, I will first review the items that you feel you need the most help with and I will assess your business as an outsider/from a customer perspective via your online presence. If I feel that my strengths in the industry are not what you need the most help with, I will not take your money. I want to know that I have skills and tools to offer you that you don’t already possess.
Also, I only mentor one photographer per city/town. Which means if you’re from Mobile, Alabama and I’ve already mentored another photographer there, unfortunately I will not take you on as a mentorship client. I work really hard to teach tools and tactics that will catapult you to being the most-booked in your city, and while it’s up to each photographer to do the work, my conscience couldn’t deal with mentoring two competing photographers. Ya dig?
(Reference mentorship program information above.)
Q: What gear do you use?
A: It doesn’t matter, truly. I spent way too much of my early career caring about having what everyone else was using only to discover that it really didn’t matter. BUT, if you realllllllly want to know: Depending on the shoot, I select from one of three camera bodies. The Nikon D750 is my go-to, the Nikon D700 (discontinued) is my absolute favorite but the images are much much crisper, and the files a little smaller so I’m selective about which shoots I use it for, and the Nikon D810 for commercial editorial boudoir or shoots that I know are going to be printed BIG. My absolute favorite lens is the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 art lens, followed by the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 art. I shoot social media content, travel, and personal images on my little Fuji XT-1 mirrorless with a 35mm lens.
Q: Any tips for a new photographer to building a successful business?
A: Yes: never. stop. the. hustle. I’m on year 10 in business and still hustle daily like I’m just starting up my business. Focus the MOST on delivering incredible customer service, as that is the most important thing. Customer service level can make or break your success. Stay consistent with your efforts, take great care of your existing clients, and put yourself and your work out there often.
Q: When should I get a studio? Did it make a big difference in your business?
A: The short answer is, you can make any situation work for you. If you cannot afford a studio or if your business is not quite consistent enough to warrant it, explore your other options and rock them out. I don’t recommend jumping into a studio space until you have a proven track record of numbers and know that you can afford it. Will your business benefit from a studio?? With boudoir, yes…probably. Having a boudoir studio lends to your credibility, makes clients feel more comfortable, and will likely light a fire under your ass as you’ll have a sense of pride about your own space AND you’ll want to continue making enough to be able to keep that space. Getting my studio was a huge milestone for my business — not because of the studio itself, but because of what that represented. It was a mental step that needed to happen in order for me to take myself to the next level. It was time.
Q: Do you offer discounts for photographers who want to book sessions with you?
A: Now what kind of boudoir business preacher would I be if I discounted services just for photographers? I am flattered and proud to say that I have a LOT of photographer shoot clients. Like…a lot. I do not treat photographers any differently than I treat my non-photographer clients. You get the same level of customer service, the same quality of images, and the same product options. Oh…and also the same price. :) If you charge what you’re worth it will finally become ridiculous to you to consider accepting any less. You shouldn’t discount yours, either.
Q: Do you teach workshops?
A: I often decline many of the speaking opportunities I’m given simply because of the time involved to do it RIGHT and the time that I actually have to do it. I take classes, keynotes, workshops, and mentorships very seriously and don’t do it for the pay. I do it to help. But I can’t be very much help if I’m unable to invest the time needed to do it RIGHT. SO- if I have enough notice and am comfortable with the amount of time I have to prepare, you may see me popping up at a workshop here and there. But if you’re hoping to learn from me, your best bet is to inquire about a mentorship.
Q: How do you balance personal and work life?
A: I always laugh at this question…because #1- that means you think that I DO balance it, and #2- no one EVER asks my husband that question. So I’m a mom of 2 school-aged boys. I work a ton. I travel often. My husband runs his own businesses as well. He works a ton. My kids’ health, safety, and happiness are my number one priority. But my kids are NOT my sole priority.
For them to be healthy, we give them nourishing food, easy on the sweets, encourage play and being outdoors. For their safety, we give them a roof over their heads in a very safe neighborhood, I walk them to the bus stop in the mornings when it’s still dark, I make them buckle their seatbelts and look 13408 times before crossing the street. Don’t play with fire, don’t leave with strangers. You know, the whole nine. Regarding their happiness: We don’t give them everything they want, we teach them that they cannot expect things to be handed to them without being earned, we teach them that being able to work hard is actually a privilege. We give them space to be independent and develop their own personalities. My daily “goodbye” to them is “Be kind. Excel.”…and I mean it. We teach them to be good people first and foremost because THAT is what matters— not what they choose to do for a living, not who they choose to love, and certainly not what brand of clothing they wear.
MOST importantly, WE PRIORITIZE OUR HAPPINESS. If I were a stay-at-home-mom, I can assure you, our entire household would be miserable. MY HAPPINESS affects THEIR HAPPINESS. And I would not be happy as a 100% full-time mom/housewife. I would HATE it….and I would resent it and eventually I may resent THEM. What sense does that make!? I know women who absolutely rock the stay-at-home mom thing out of the park, and they are happy, and that works the best for their family. AWESOME— that’s what they should do then. I know other moms who have nannies and housekeepers and personal chefs and rely on the help of others to keep their household afloat. AWESOME— that’s what they should do then. There is no ONE way to make a family work. And for ours, 2 hard-working parents who can tag-team on the schedule and make it happen while given our children the space to exist independently of us is what works for our collective happiness. Your story may be different, and I don’t judge you for that.
As for the “BALANCE” part…the answer is simple: I don’t balance shit. Something will always have less of my attention, and that is 100% ok. When I’m really hustling on a project at work, I may not see my family as much, I may miss a soccer practice or not be able to volunteer to chaperone a field trip. And when I’m focusing hard on having quality family time or working on my relationship, I may not be able to answer e-mails right away, I may even miss a booking opportunity, and that is 100% ok. I believe it’s thoroughly unnatural to be 100% conflict free and balanced. In what world does that happen???? Let’s stop striving for perfect balance and just be a little more accepting of ourselves and life’s challenges, shall we?