We got an email a few weeks ago from an amazingly sweet photographer from Houston, Texas. She was tired of feeling sick and tired. She was done being stuck. She was through with standing in-between success in this business and throwing in the towel altogether. She’d had it with the holding pattern and was ready to take off, to give it everything she has, to make a real go of it. She’d done workshops. She’d watched a lot online. But she was looking for something more. Something to take her from stuck not just to unstuck, but to standing out, to succeeding, because pushing a boulder up a hill isn’t fun when it’s forever. It’s fun when you know that if you push that heavy rock 1) hard enough, and 2) with the right direction, eventually you’ll get to the top… and it’ll roll itself down the other side.

There’s hope in that, isn’t there? That you could actually see fruit from your labor in your photography business. That you could make a real living with it and, more importantly, a real life. That success isn’t for the chosen few. It’s for anyone — anyone– who’s willing to work hard and work smart. The first part we can’t teach. You’ve either got it… or you don’t. The second part, though, we can help with that. Because head knowledge isn’t anyone’s birthright. No one, as we always remind photographers, came out of the womb knowing how to shoot a DSLR. They learned and practiced and grew in their craft, just like anything else in life. But if there’s one truth we’ve seen in our life, that we saw in the classroom, that we’ve experienced first-hand with our students, it’s that if a student’s willing to learn, and a teacher knows how to teach, that student can grow faster than they ever thought possible and do things they never thought they could do.

So, when Vanessa contacted us about a full-day coaching session at our home in Scottsdale, we knew she had that kind of purpose, drive, and desire. We found the only opening on our calendar for the month of July, she booked her flight and hotel just weeks before coming out, and we spent an entire day digging into every area of her business, hoping that she’d leave changed forever, and that her business would change others’ lives, but, more importantly, hers, too.

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We asked Vanessa to share her experience with us — and with you — so that she could reflect on her time here, so that we could reflect on her time here, and so that anyone else looking to get from where they are to where they want to be would know that they’ve got two people in us who are ready to go all-in with them and give them the tools they need to take their camera… and run with it. Here’s Vanessa’s email to us. We read it over and over again, and maybe even teared up at a few points, but it perfectly captures our time with Vanessa:

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“The word ‘exhaustion’ doesn’t begin to describe how I’ve felt lately. Something needed to change and fast. Trying to manage so many things was exhausting but I wanted to learn. I NEEDED to learn more to master my craft. I’ve learned a lot online but my time is limited and wanted to do an in-person mentoring.  I’ve followed Amy and Jordan’s blog for a while and look forward to “The Monday Minute” each week, too. I wanted to mentor with someone and thought they would be a perfect fit, because they would understand the things I felt I was struggling with, as they once worked full-time and did photography, like me now. I wanted to find someone that truly wanted to help others learn, and luckily, A&J were teachers before they were photographers and that made me feel more comfortable. And, okay, let’s be serious, they love SWEETS as much as I DO so I knew it was a perfect fit! I emailed Amy and Jordan inquiring about mentoring and received an instant response from Jordan. I was nervous and excited at the same time! 

Amy and Jordan weren’t at all what I expected. 

In person, they were smarter, funnier, more adorable and energetic, and absolutely lovable! They actually wanted to get to know me and wanted to HELP me learn. Amy and Jordan shared with me their personal experiences and let me know it was okay to ask questions, which made me feel so much better.  We discussed my business, the importance of websites, blogging, branding, nailing how to use the ExpoDisc (UMMM… AMAZING!), post-processing, using flash (Amy was an awesome model) and so much more! We had so much fun!

Amy and Jordan encouraged me and gave me the confidence I was looking for to take my business to the next level! We came up with action plans and “homework” for me to do and I CANNOT WAIT get to started! I am beyond grateful for Amy and Jordan willing to share and help me learn everything I wanted to learn. I’m so thankful they took the time out of their busy schedule. I feel more confident in my shooting and how to have a successful, profitable business!

Thank you Amy and  Jordan for encouraging me and inspiring me to not give up on my dream, my passion for photography! Amy and Jordan changed my life and not just in photography. They made me want to be a better person, wife (to-be) and photographer! I can do this. I have a plan. I will make it happen! One day I will make the leap!”

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Ugh! How can you not look at her sweet face and fall instantly in love?! We picked up Vanessa at the airport on Saturday morning for her full-day coaching session and SHE BROUGHT US CUPCAKES from her favorite hometown bakery! Whaaat?! She kept them in perfect condition on the plane and everything. Is this real life?! We snacked on these puppies all day, with a cold glass of milk, of course.

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We spent the morning listening to Vanessa’s story and listening to her why, because we believe that with a clearly-defined why, you can accomplish any how in this world. Then we moved on to all things branding, websites, blogging, social media, and how to attract the clients that make all of our hearts pitter-patter, the ones we live to serve, and serve well.

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After lunch (at Chipotle, because… hmm… we’re kind of addicted AND burrito bowls have been a huge part of Jordan meeting his fitness goals this summer!), we headed back to the house to dive into pricing, client relationships, and workflow from the time a client contacts us until the final images are delivered.

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We gave Vanessa a few minutes to catch her breath (there might’ve been smoke coming off her notebook from all the notes she was taking!) before heading to one of our favorite local spots for a few hours of technical training with the ExpoDisc, nailing exposure and white balance in-camera every time, talking about great light and how to find it, practicing shooting groups of people at different depths of field, practicing shooting details editorially for publication, demonstrating how and why different lenses produce different results and how to choose the right one, and so much more!

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Amy might’ve demoed some posing techniques here, too! We all had so much fun together!

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One of the coolest parts about coaching other photographers is seeing the immediate difference in their work with just a few hours of identifying what they’re doing and then making adjustments. The confidence Vanessa had after the late afternoon shooting was amazing to see!

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This is our holy-moly-we’re-tired-but-so-dang-excited-about-what’s-happening-right-now smiles!

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We grabbed dinner after shooting and finished up the night with post-processing training, the basics of flash, and (of course) another cupcake to celebrate a whirlwind day that left us all feeling exhausted but oh-so-good! Vanessa, you. are. amazing! Thank you for coming all the way from Houston to Phoenix to spend the day with us. We loved every second of it and can’t wait to watch you get after your dreams. Go get ’em, girl. We’re cheering you on 100% of the way!

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If you’re interested in a full day coaching session with us, please check out our For Photographers website more for information and our contact forms! We’d love to get you on our calendar and help YOUR business grow!

Also, if you’re looking for some awesome free resources, check out The Monday Minute, our free weekly newsletter for photographers that’s delivered straight to your inbox every week and not posted anywhere on our blog!

filed in: Education