Stay-At-Home Mom Becomes Successful Business Owner with a $4,500 Average Sale with Mapuana Reed

April 27, 2020 Artist Spotlight

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Top Takeaways

Don’t be afraid of failure, it’s part of the growth process.

Take time to educate yourself. The more you learn, the more you can earn.

Building a business is not magic. You get out of it what you put in.

You don’t need anyone’s permission to succeed. If you want something, go get it.

Get to Know Mapuana Reed

Q: Most artists have a point in their life where they knew this was meant for them. Do you have that moment?

A: That moment for me was back in 2011. I was at a photography workshop in San Diego trying to search for my style and what I type of photography I loved.  At that point, I was shooting weddings, families, boudoir, seniors, pets, basically everything and anything but didn’t love any of it.  Someone at the workshop asked if I have ever heard of Sue Bryce.  At that time I had no idea who she was but I wrote her name on the back of my notes.  A few weeks later as I was going through my notes I decided to google her name and came across her website.  When her website opened up and I saw the before and after photos, I just knew at that moment that THIS is what I was meant to do.  I remember saying out loud, “I need to meet this woman, I need to learn from her and I need to be her friend.”  I just knew in my heart that this was my calling.

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

A: It would 100% be my legacy cultural portraits.  I am Samoan, Hawaiian, Spanish, and Irish.  Our Polynesian people come from a strong cultural background.  We are very much connected to our land, ancestors, and culture.  I don’t see a lot of people doing cultural portraits and this is something that I want to bring back.  I want families to have these portraits in their homes and to be able to have them passed down to generations.  I want these portraits to be in the homes of our great-grandchildren.  I want to see who and where they come from.  I want them to have a face to connect with when they are looking at their great grandmother or great grandfather.  I want this to forever be within their family.  These are legacy portraits.  This is what we will be remembered by when we are no longer here.

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Q: For someone starting out on their photography journey what advice would you have for them?

A: You don’t need to have all the expensive gadgets to start.  You just need one client, one lens, and one camera body.  JUST GO FOR IT!   Don’t be afraid of failure, it is part of the growth process.


“Sue Bryce has changed not only my life but my entire family dynamic.”


Q: How has Sue Bryce Education changed your life for the better?

A: My income has increased and continues to increase yearly.  It has allowed me to contribute to supporting my family and allowing my husband to have some downtime.  At one point he was the only person in the family with an income and he was getting burnt out.  Now that I am making this money he has been taking off  4-5 months a year to just be with the family.  He has worked so hard for so many years and having him home more has been the best for our family.  So I would say SBE has changed not only my life but it has changed the entire family dynamic.

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Q: How much time do you spend on marketing, content planning on social media right now?

A: Honesty I am not a good marketing person and that is something I know I need to work on.  I know zero about marketing but I do know that people will connect to stories about clients and that is what I try to focus on.  I focus on telling a story about why this client came in for a shoot. Everyone has a story, you just have to spend some time and listen.  Like truly listen to them on why they are there.

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

A: Making over $175,000 for the last few years.  The more I educate myself the bigger my bank account grows.   The two go hand in hand, the more you learn the more you make.  

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Mapuana’s Studio

Q: How would you describe your business right now in one sentence?

A: It’s actually a quote, “The day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit.” What I do today will show up in my bank account in a few months. This is work, not magic. You get what you put into it.

Q: Who in your life inspires your work the most?

A: My grandmother Vaitai.  She was so full of love and she loved photos.  Her entire home was filled with cultural portraits.  I grew up looking at portraits of my Samoan ancestors such as my great-grandmother and great-grandfather.  She didn’t come from much, but when she passed away she left each of her children an album of their photos.  Each had their own separate album of all of their childhood memories and accomplishments.  When someone passes away they tend to leave money for those left behind, but she left us something that money could not buy.  We now have all of my dad’s football news articles and the awards he got during high school and college. We even have photos of him in elementary.  It’s so cool to see who he was as a child.  I loved this woman so much and she is the one who gifted me with the love of cultural portraits.

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Q: What initially sparked your interest in photography?

A: I wanted to show the world what I see as beautiful.


“If I want something I go out and get it. I don’t need permission.”


Q: What has been your biggest breakthrough in business?

A: I don’t need anyone’s permission to succeed.  If I truly want something I can go out and get it.  The choice is mine.

Q: What is your average sale currently?

A: My average is normally $3375 for boudoir/glamour shoot but my family shoots are averaging $6375.  Family shoots are my big sellers because they normally purchase a folio box plus wall art.  If you are taking the time to get your family into the studio to have professional portraits done wouldn’t you want to have them printed huge up on the wall for years to come?!

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Q: What fellow artists in the industry do you gain the most inspiration from?

A: Sue Bryce, Peter Lindbergh, Kara Marie, and Lola Melani.  I love the way they see women through their lens

Q: What does the Sue Bryce Education community mean to you?

A: Support. There is so much love and support in this group no matter if you are just starting out in the business or have been doing it for years.  The entire SBE team and all of its members are always ready to help and answer questions any way they can. 

Q: Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?

A: As much as I love photography I also have a love for farming.  I love putting on some old clothes, boots, putting my hair up in a ponytail, and just getting in the dirt.  In 5 years I see myself being on a farm growing my own fruits and vegetables for my family.  One day I’m in the studio with gowns and the next day I’m in the dirt with my boots on.  This is one way for me to keep myself balanced.

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Mapuana Reed of Mapuana Reed Photography

Mapuana Reed is a photographer based in Honolulu, Hawaii. She specializes in bringing a woman’s inner beauty out. She photographs women through all stages of their lives, including 3-4 generation shoots, mother and daughter shoots, maternity, glamour, boudoir, and family sessions. She began her photography business in 2009 before moving back to Hawaii.

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you! I enjoyed your podcast! I can relate to Mapuana’s feelings when she became a SAHM. I lost myself too… for 15 years… now just discovering who I am. It’s a little bit like the movie, “Where Did You Go, Bernadette?” I highly recommend watching it!