The Portrait System Podcast with Saray Taylor Roman
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What initially sparked your interest in photography?
“I was 13 when I got my first camera. I loved taking pictures of friends, cats, and the landscape around me. Fast-forward to college years – I took a couple of courses in photography and learned what makes a good photo, as well as how to develop my own film. In class, I practiced landscape photography, architectural photography, and photojournalism. Those genres were interesting, but none of them truly captured my interest.
Portrait, however, was different. Through portraits, I could build a significant connection with another person. I really enjoyed listening to what people had to say and then crafting images to retell their stories.
I picked it back up soon after my daughter was born. While on sabbatical, I decided to try out my new digital camera. I wanted to know it like the back of my hand, so every other weekend I asked friends and family to give me a couple of hours to practice Sue’s posing on them.”
Saray’s Former Studio
We all go through periods of mental blocks. How do you push past times of not finding inspiration?
“I take time off. I travel, I watch fashion shows, I observe nature, I take everything in. We can’t pour from an empty cup so I nourish myself back up.”
Everyone has a favorite shoot – tell us about yours and why it’s your favorite.
“I love working with dancers. I admire their strength, their grace, and their discipline. I want to celebrate the years it has taken them to pursue their craft with such passion. I also love it because I get to design the sets, paint backdrops, create wardrobe pieces, and push my own creative boundaries.”
Saray’s New Studio
How did you find Sue Bryce?
“I stumbled upon her when watching a Creative Live course led by Jasmine Star. There was a legend at the bottom of the screen that said: “if you’re enjoying this course, you would love this instructor.”
I clicked on the link and the rest is history. She took me on a whirlwind of a journey where whatever I dreamed and had the courage to work for would simply come to pass. She took a high school Spanish teacher, with thousands of dollars in debt and very little skill, to an international award-winning photographer in four years. I have also managed to pay off over 100k in debt.”
How did you push past fear when building your business?
“I’ve learned from Sue that fear is and will always be present. Fear has not gone away but I’ve grown bolder the more steps I take. Now, I feel like I can leap and not just take itty bitty steps like at the beginning.
So, I feel that action, however small, however imperfect is what has taken me here. It’s what I call little acts of courage that you do day in and day out whether you feel like it and, especially when you don’t feel like it.”
Saray’s First Paid Client
What is your average sale currently?
“My 2019 sale average is $2,604. And we saw 106 clients last year doing 1.5 shoot days at the studio every month. Our monthly average is $23,002. Did you know that as a teacher in my first year I earned $28,000? It’s mind-blowing to see what we are capable of when we are doing what we love!”
What do you think is the biggest misconception when people are trying to start their photography business?
“I feel that the biggest misconception is that it will happen overnight or that there is a magic pill that does not involve little acts of courage every single day. Another big one is that it worked for her because she lives in XYZ place but it won’t work for me. This is a proven business strategy that works wherever big cities, small towns, in the U.S. and abroad. That’s why it is so important to join the Members-only Facebook community as soon as you get the SBE membership. Seeing everyone else’s success stories as well as the obstacles they overcame to get there are so inspiring.”
What does the SBE community mean to you?
“It has been the one online group where I’ve been both inspired and challenged daily. As I watched the videos and a question came up, I could go there without the fear of being judged and ask away. Every time I saw people getting 2000, 4000, 6000 sales it gave me the confidence that I could do it too. Every time I saw people with tons of talent, that inspired me to what my own work could look like. It’s the one photography and business online group of which I’m an active member.”
For someone starting out on their photography journey, what advice would you have for them?
“Get a Sue Bryce Education annual membership and commit yourself to do the work for that whole year! Get involved in the Members-only Facebook group, it’s such a welcoming community and there is no such thing as a stupid question: ask away, be vulnerable, share your victories and shortcomings. We’ve all been there and your journey will inspire others. If you have the funds and want to accelerate the process, hire a mentor within the Sue Bruce community to streamline the process for you. Seriously though, everything you need is in SBE.”
Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?
“Last year I added a business partner for the first time and while it has taken some time to adjust, it was the best business decision of 2019. Five years from now I see myself growing a team. I will be doing solely fine artwork and having associate photographers taking care of my personal branding clients. I see myself having the freedom to pursue other creative avenues that have been suppressed since childhood because they were never viable career options until now.”
Saray Taylor-Roman of Taylor-Roman Photography