Value Your Work, Increase Your Income with Sue Bryce

January 22, 2021 Blog

Episode 55: Sue Bryce

Welcome to Sue Bryce’s first 2021 visit to the Portrait System Podcast with Nikki Closser.  In this episode, Sue talks with Nikki about the many ways you can make money with a photographer’s skill set, as well as how to decide what to focus on and build your business around. But the conversation doesn’t stop there. Sue goes in depth into how to educate your clients in a way that makes them excited for their session, thrilled to spend money with you, and eager to refer their friends to you. She also leads you through the various systems needed for each point of contact with your clients, and serves it all up in way that is powerful, empowering, and highly motivating. And it all begins with you –  tapping into your passion, building your self confidence, and increasing the value of your work and how you value it!

Be sure to listen to the whole podcast to catch the fire that has made Sue Bryce a world-renowned photographer and one of the leading photography educators today!

In this blog post, we’ll share highlights from the podcast as well as beautiful images of and by Sue Bryce.


Take the Step 

“What is the dominant question in your business right now . . . what sort of business do I want to have? What sort of genres do I want to shoot? What sort of business style? How much money do I want to earn? How much do I want to work? And honestly, creating a business around your lifestyle with lots of self-value – and you’re going to keep building it every single day you do it – you’re going to get more confident. Your photography is going to get better. You’re going to get stronger and stronger, and you’re going to get paid.

And then, am I sustainable? Am I profitable? Can I sustain this level of work? Can I scale my business? Can I get any bigger? How do I create bigger goals? Like if I get to that first level, and I’m getting work, but I want to be great, how do I go up to that next level? Every single person is creating a step based on their next step, and I can tell you right now, if your next step is too big, and too scary, it’s not the next step. It’s too big. Break it down. Make it smaller. Take the step, and that’s it.”


“Take off your macro lens. Put on your panoramic lens. Look at the big picture. You’re looking too close at the wrong thing. Pull back, put a panoramic lens on there. Take time to look around and feel. Trust your gut. Your gut is telling you where you need to go.”


You should explore all the genres, so you can find out what you really love the most. The first decision you make though is style-based: fashion, beauty, editorial, photo-journalism. And then, either classic or illustrative. This is about who you are and who you see as a mentor, i.e., I want what they’ve got. As you explore the different genres, you should ask yourself, what demographic do I enjoy shooting the most? What age? What genre? What demographic? This gives you an avatar of your future client.”

Genres: glamour, contemporary, couples, wedding, maternity, newborn, family, generations, events, editorial, behind-the-scenes fashion, schools, sports, personal branding – business and influencers

There’s also: product photography, stock photography, urban landscape, real estate, fine art images, photography books, rare books, jewel brands, digital products – pdfs, podcasts, and videos

And related skills: retouching, marketing, design


“The foundation is self value, great product, great connection.”


There’s no rules . . . Really, take all the rules away, so:

  • if you want a portrait studio, go for it!
  • if you want a part-time portrait studio, and you want to work the other half of the time, go for it!
  • if you want a portrait studio or just to photograph portraiture on occasion, or at a temporary studio, then go for it!
  • if you want to have a jewel brand, like you’re a hairstylist that likes to shoot portraits. I have friends who are makeup artists and portrait photographers. . .
  • Re-touching is a service. If you’re good at it, offer it.
  • Marketing is a service. If you’re good at it, offer it.
  • Design is an incredible service. If you’re good at it, offer it.
  • Fine art images and products. Sit down and ask yourself, what fine art can I create with my camera. What product can I create? Where would I sell said product? And if you are filled with joy around creating that product, there shouldn’t be a block moving forward.


“I educate. I excite. I create demand. I create excitement. I create desire. It’s like setting a mood and watching everybody catch excitement.”


“The more you excite them and set expectations and ask them: What do you want? How do you want to be photographed? How do you want to do this? Where do you want to do this? Oh, my gosh, you are commissioning me to take photographs of you that you are then going to come back, look at, fall in love with, and buy all of them. It is my job in this moment to get so excited.

I wouldn’t do that for $250 at the end. . . I’m going to pay my make up artist . I’m going to pay for my products. And I want to have a viable, sustainable business. It’s ok to start with shoot and burn, but you need to understand something; prints have value, too. Add them. Sell a digital package with prints, and then you’re winning.

If anyone is charging under $600, I really have to seriously ask, how you’re going to build a business doing this. You need to bring yourself up into that professional level. You need to grow in confidence. And you need to be good enough to charge those prices.”


“Be the photographer everyone wants to book.”


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Sue Bryce of Sue Bryce Education

With 30 years experience, Sue Bryce is one of the most recognizable photographers in the imaging industry. New Zealand born and raised, Bryce now lives and works in Los Angeles.

Her contemporary glamour portrait style transcends past stereotypes and has changed the face of portrait photography. In 2015, Bryce was greatly honored to be chosen to represent Canon USA in the Explorers of Light program.

Follow Sue: InstagramFacebook Website 

Sue Bryce Education is an online education platform & community for contemporary portrait, connecting to photographers globally through live broadcasts, videos, in-person workshops, and The Portrait Masters annual boutique conference that hosts the Awards + Accreditation program.