Burned Out Wedding Photographer to a 6 Figure Portrait Business with Ashleigh Taylor

March 2, 2020 Artist Spotlight

model headshot, photography headshot of brunette photographer holding her camera, photography podcasts, education for photographers, business marketing podcast, the portrait system podcast

Top Takeaways

• Deliver results your clients will love

• Find time for self-care

• You have to want to succeed more than you want to fail

• Focus on the parts of your business you enjoy – outsource the rest

Get to know Ashleigh Taylor Portraits

Q: Where do you find inspiration for your portraits?

A: I have always been inspired by the pages of Vogue, Vanity Fair, and other magazines. As a kid, I would see shoots of my idols like Madonna, Nicole Kidman or Oprah and just gush over the images. I always was attracted to those celebrity portraits and wanted to create something like that. I take that inspiration and see how I can adapt it for the everyday client. I want to give my clients the feeling of being a celebrity for the day.

photography studio setup, photography backdrops, studio space ideas, studio layout

Ashleigh’s First Studio


“I wanted to succeed more than
I wanted anything else.”


Q: How did you push past fear when building your business?

A: I think you really have to WANT it to push past fear. You have to desire a successful business more than your desire to stay comfortable and small. So when I started I did have fear. I did get nervous on sales calls or networking (and sometimes I still do). I did feel awkward I would say the wrong thing, or look silly or take bad photos that my clients would not like… but at the end of the day, I wanted to succeed more than I wanted anything else. And I knew I had to push past those fears by simply doing the work one step at a time to get the success in business I desired.

business headshots of women in business, glamour portraits of women, poses, studio photography

Portraits from Ashleigh’s first year in business

Q: We document people through portraits. What’s your secret to not getting bored with photographing clients? 

A: I actually LOVE to have a system and shoot people in the same ways. It takes the pressure off and I know I am going to deliver the results that clients love. I guess to some people that could get boring but I don’t find making consistently good sales to be boring! Ha! Additionally, my clients are what keep it interesting. I genuinely love connecting with my clients, learning their stories and showing their unique beauty.

photography studio setup, photography backdrops, studio space ideas, studio layout, photo display, photo reveal wall

photography studio setup, photography backdrops, studio space ideas, studio layout, photo display, photo reveal wallAshleigh’s Studio

Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment since starting Sue Bryce Education?

A: Wow! I have had so MANY huge accomplishments from starting Sue Bryce Education. Everything from opening my first studio to then upgrading to a bigger space, being able to quit weddings, having my first $5,000 sale, getting paid to do shoots in fabulous far-flung cities like Toronto, Paris, & Venice, winning Best Photographer in my city’s local paper…there’s so many how do I choose?

Q: Many people struggle to find a balance between staying inspired creatively and running a thriving business. How do you find your balance?

A: I am not sure balance really exists and if it does I haven’t found it! That said, I do find it helps to have a bit of structure to my schedule –  times when I work and times that are JUST for family (like after 5 pm).

I also try to find time for self-care and things that keep me in love with life and inspired. For me that looks like going to the theater and/or concerts, art museums, traveling, being in nature, dancing and listening to music. When I fill my own bucket for fun and zest for life then I come into work more refreshed and ready to give it my all.

portraits of black women, poses for headshots of women in business

Q: What has been your biggest breakthrough in business?

A: My biggest breakthrough has been getting the bums on seats I desired, 2 a week, and to be booked out 6-8 weeks in advance. That has been a game-changer for me. Seeing my calendar full has taken the edge of my anxiety and makes me a lot more confident when selling to clients on the initial consult, thus continuing to fuel bookings. I have worked so hard over the last 4 years to get to this point and it feels really good to be here.

Q: If there was only one genre of portraits you could photograph for the rest of your days, what would it be?

A: I don’t know if it’s a genre per se but I really love photographing women with silver hair. It is so beautiful. I love that raw, authentic, self-acceptance of women who do not dye their hair and silver hair is so stunning and photographs amazing. So if I could spend my days photographing the silver sisters and celebrating them that is what I would do.

women over 60 portraits, poses for portraits of women, studio lighting for portraits poses for two women, women over 60s, generational portraits, studio lighting or portraits


“Sue Bryce Education has literally changed my life.”


Q: Explain how Sue Bryce Education helped you overcome obstacles in your business?

A: I wouldn’t be in this business without Sue Bryce Education! Sue literally changed my life when I found her online in 2012 and again in 2013 when I took a workshop with her. Within 2 months of taking that workshop, I had my own studio. Then again in 2015 when I took another workshop, I realized I wanted to stop shooting weddings altogether. Sue has taught me so much from pricing to sales to what to say in tough conversations to of course how to take stunning images that thrill my clients. SBE has helped with literally every part of having a successful business.

Q: There are so many parts to running a business – shooting, culling, editing, marketing. What’s your favorite part and do you outsource any?

A: From the beginning, I outsourced retouching. I realized I was a strong shooter but knew very little about photoshop and I knew I could either put in the hours to learn PS or I could start shooting & selling and just factor outsourcing the retouch into my prices. Now that I do 2-3 shoots a week, I am very glad I outsource even though sometimes I wish I was more skilled at retouching. I really LOVE shooting (of course) as well as content creation, marketing, networking, and sales. I am glad to have that time to focus on those things I love.

poses for portraits, men, women, maternity, fashion, photographyQ: Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?

A: I am really interested in empowering women through portraits yes, but also through personal development and talking about more “taboo” issues and bringing them to light. I want women to be free of the things that keep them small, the things they are afraid to claim or admit they experience. I would love to have perhaps a podcast or some platform that is more than just portraits to bring a community of women together to really embrace themselves, their beauty, and feel empowered in a multitude of areas.

women abroad portraits, woman in red dress posing at boating dock

Ashleigh’s Current Work

Subscribe to The Podcast

ART19SpotifyStitcherTuneInRadioPublicApple Podcast

headshot of woman, studio portrait, woman in business suit


Ashleigh Taylor Henning of Ashleigh Taylor Portraits

Ashleigh Taylor is an accredited master portrait photographer who loves to capture the beauty, confidence, and joy in every woman. 

She is honored to have been personally trained by world-famous portrait photographer Sue Bryce, and under her tutelage, she learned how to pose, light, and style every woman to make them look their best.

Ashleigh has been featured on and serves on the support team for, Sue Bryce Education.

Ashleigh has traveled the world to France, Italy, Canada, Maui, and all over the United States to photograph clients. Her work has been featured in major print and online publications. She was honored to be named Best Photographer in Santa Barbara.

Follow Ashleigh: InstagramFacebookWebsitePortrait Masters Awards Directory Watch Ashleigh’s Studio Tour on Sue Bryce Education