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Wake Up Call for Photographers! The Brutal Reality of Failing Businesses Nobody Wants to Talk About

A candid shot of a photography workshop, with a group of aspiring photographers gathered around a table

Feeling like your photography business is failing can be painful, but it might be a sign that you're not as good at photography as you think. I get it - I've been there too, and did you know that up to 60% of photographers quit their business in the first year according to Dane Sanders? This article will provide practical tips about transforming weaknesses into strengths, identifying areas of improvement, and giving your photography business the boost it needs.

Trust me; this may be a game-changer for your shutterbug dreams.

Key Takeaways

  • Lack of photography skills and experience can contribute to the failure of a photography business. It's important to assess whether you are truly prepared technically and artistically before starting your own venture.

  • Transitioning from hobbyist to professional photographer too soon can be detrimental to your business. Invest time in enhancing your technical skills and understanding the various aspects involved in running an efficient photography business.

  • Emphasizing the "empowering" narrative over technical photography skills may lead to subpar photographs. Strive for a balance between emotional narratives and mastering technical skills, as both are crucial for success in this industry.

  • Professionalism, dedication, and providing exceptional client experiences are essential for sustaining a successful photography business. Focus on delivering high-quality work, handling administrative tasks effectively, and building strong relationships with clients.

A shot of a female boudoir photographer holding a camera, her face filled with frustration and disappointment

Reasons Why Your Photography Business Is Failing

Your photography business may be failing due to a lack of photography skills and experience, turning "Pro" too soon, excessive focus on the "empowering" narrative over technical skills, unprofessionalism and poor dedication, ineffective marketing and branding strategies, inadequate client experience, overlooking the importance of networking and community, lack of natural talent, as well as not understanding what makes excellent boudoir photography.

Lack of photography skills and experience

It's a harsh reality to swallow, but not everyone who wields a camera is cut out for professional photography. Despite the rapid advancement of technology making high-quality cameras accessible to nearly anyone, there's an immense gap between owning decent equipment and possessing the skills required to use it proficiently.

It’s like equating having access to a race car with being ready for NASCAR! Proficiency in photography doesn't come overnight – it requires time, patience, practice and exposure to various shooting situations.

Imagine you're shooting your client in their exquisite boudoir set-up; excellent equipment will only get you so far if you can't manipulate lighting conditions or compose shots effectively.

You also have to master post-production techniques that'll enhance the raw images captured by your lens into breathtaking works of art.

Don’t be overly confident based on flattering comments from friends and family about your photographs - actual clients might not be as forgiving if they aren’t pleased with their pictures.

And, the clicking of the shutter button is only a tiny fraction of what is involved in running a photography business. In fact, according to Dane Sanders' book "Fast Track Photographer", 60% of photographers give up their business within the first year itself due mostly because they realize too late that adeptness at clicking beautiful photos is different from running a successful photography business.

So think twice before swapping your amateur status for a pro tag prematurely: make an honest assessment of whether you’re actually prepared both technically and artistically, or whether more learning and experience are needed prior jumping head-first into starting your own photography venture.

You turned "Pro" too soon

Jumping into the professional photography arena too early is a common mistake that can lead to the downfall of many fledgling businesses. Simply purchasing high-end equipment or having an appreciation for aesthetics doesn’t automatically qualify you as a seasoned professional.

Being hasty in transitioning from hobbyist to pro could be a significant contributing factor in your business not doing well.

By and far the number one fail I see in the boudoir photography space is people suddenly deciding one day their life's goal is to "transform women's lives," buying a camera, and launching themselves as a "pro" (with no photography experience) all within a 3 day period.

In this industry, your reputation is everything and once it’s tarnished, recovery becomes arduous. You have to ensure that every client you serve receives only your best work - consistent subpar output could potentially damage your business irreversibly.

Before labeling yourself as 'professional', invest time in enhancing not only your technical skills but also understanding the many facets involved in running an efficient photography business like marketing strategies and financial planning.

After all, transforming a passion for photography into a thriving business entails more than just clicking beautiful images - it demands mastering both artistry and commerce.

Too much emphasis on the "empowering" boudoir narrative, not enough on technical photography skills

I want to let you in on something - a common pitfall I've noticed among boudoir photographers is placing too much emphasis on the "empowering" narrative while skimping on technical photography skills.

Don't get me wrong, it's wonderful that we as photographers can impact our clients positively and help them feel empowered. However, this shouldn't be at the cost of perfecting your craft.

In essence, an empowering photo shoot experience won’t matter if the photographs themselves are subpar. It’s like building a high-end dining establishment with beautiful décor but serving poor quality food; customers will leave unsatisfied no matter how impressive the interior may be.

Every shot you take should offer flawless lighting, meticulous composition, and striking image detail – hallmarks of a skilled photographer in any genre including boudoir photography.

Telling your client "You slayed it!" and revealing technically poor photos to them does not make for a great client experience...or help your brand.

Consider ongoing education and practice to foster these competencies. Understanding your craft deeply can help dodge commercial failure which most photographers face early into their venture.

Moreover, remember that successful photographers strike a balance between being good business owners and excellent artists - part of which involves mastering technical skills rather than just focusing on emotional narratives alone.

Lack of professionalism and dedication

One of the key reasons why your photography business may be failing is a lack of professionalism and dedication. Being a professional photographer goes beyond just having excellent technical skills and producing quality images.

It requires a level of commitment, reliability, and respect for your clients and their experience with you. Remember that running a photography business means not only being creative behind the lens but also handling administrative tasks, marketing your services effectively, and consistently delivering on your promises.

Understanding the numbers and financial aspects of the photography business is crucial for success. By demonstrating professionalism and dedicating yourself to providing exceptional service, you can set yourself apart from competitors and build a loyal client base that will support your growth in this highly competitive industry.

Poor marketing and branding

I understand that marketing and branding may not be the most exciting aspects of running a photography business, but they are crucial for your success. Poor marketing and branding can really harm your chances of attracting clients and standing out in a competitive market. And people are poor marketers. --AND simply posting "She slayed it!" photos to Instagram is not marketing.

It's not enough to simply create beautiful boudoir photos; you need to effectively communicate your unique selling points and value proposition to potential clients. Without a strong brand identity, you risk blending into the crowd and being forgotten among other photographers.

Remember, investing time and resources into developing effective marketing strategies will help ensure that your photography business reaches its full potential.

Inadequate client experience

As a boudoir photographer, one crucial aspect of your photography business is ensuring an exceptional client experience. Inadequate client experience can quickly lead to business failure.

When clients feel undervalued or dissatisfied with their overall experience, they are less likely to recommend your services and may seek out other photographers for future shoots.

Creating a positive and memorable client experience starts from the moment they reach out to inquire about your services. Timely responses to inquiries, clear communication regarding pricing and packages, and addressing any concerns or questions promptly can make a significant difference in how clients perceive your professionalism and dedication.

During the actual photo shoot, it is important to create a comfortable environment where clients feel empowered and confident. Being attentive to their needs, guiding them through poses with clear instructions, and providing encouragement along the way not only enhances the overall experience but also translates into more stunning photographs.

Ignoring the importance of networking and community

As a boudoir photographer, it's crucial not to underestimate the power of networking and community within the industry. Building relationships with fellow photographers can provide valuable support, knowledge sharing, and potential referrals.

Engaging in local photography groups, attending industry events or workshops, and participating in online forums can help you stay connected with like-minded professionals who understand the unique challenges of running a photography business.

Additionally, being part of a supportive community allows you to learn from others' experiences and gain new insights that can elevate your work. Remember, collaboration over competition is key in this field where networking is an essential ingredient for success.

--And avoid internet fake photography "gurus" promising success by purchasing their $2300 "Mastermind" course.

Lack of natural talent

As a boudoir photographer, one of the reasons your business may be failing is due to a lack of natural talent. While photography skills can be developed and improved over time, some individuals simply have an innate ability to capture stunning images.

This doesn't mean that you should give up if you believe your talent is lacking - it just means that you may need to work harder and invest more time into honing your craft. Understanding the technical aspects of photography, mastering composition and lighting techniques, and continuously seeking ways to improve your artistic vision are all essential steps in overcoming this challenge.

Don't let a perceived lack of natural talent discourage you; instead, embrace the opportunity for growth and improvement as you strive towards becoming a successful boudoir photographer.

Lack of understanding of what makes excellent boudoir photography

When it comes to boudoir photography, understanding what makes an excellent photograph is crucial for the success of your business. It's not just about capturing someone in their most intimate and vulnerable state; it's also about creating images that exude beauty, empowerment, and confidence. It's about creating technically excellent photography.

To achieve this, you need to have a deep understanding of lighting techniques, posing angles, and composition that flatters your subjects. Additionally, you must be able to create a comfortable and safe environment for your clients where they can truly express themselves.

Often, especially with boudoir photographers, there is this lack of self-awareness and a lack of understanding of what good technical photography is. Subpar photographs are gleefully shared on social media with the obligatory "She rocked it!"-style captions. Seeing low quality material posted online by "pro" boudoir photographers to promote their "business" is at the same time both puzzling, and not really doing a service to your subjects.

If you can't tell a good boudoir photograph from a bad one... you're in trouble.

By investing in education and training specific to boudoir photography, you can expand your skills and ensure that each image you capture highlights the unique beauty of every individual who trusts you with their intimate moments.".

A shot of a female boudoir photographer holding a camera, her face filled with frustration

Tips to Improve Your Photography Business

Improve your photography business by investing in education and training, enhancing your technical skills and artistic vision, creating a strong brand identity, prioritizing customer satisfaction and exceptional client experience, and building a strong network of fellow photographers and potential clients.

Invest in photography education and training

Investing in photography education and training is crucial for improving your skills and staying ahead in the competitive boudoir photography industry. Here are some reasons why it's important:

  1. Gain technical knowledge: Learning from experienced photographers and attending workshops or courses will help you enhance your technical skills. Understanding concepts like lighting, composition, posing, and editing will elevate the quality of your photos.

  2. Develop artistic vision: Education and training allow you to explore different styles, techniques, and trends in boudoir photography. This exposure can help you develop your own unique artistic vision that sets you apart from others.

  3. Stay updated with industry trends: The photography industry is constantly evolving, with new equipment, software, and techniques being introduced regularly. By investing in education, you can stay up-to-date with these trends and ensure that your work remains fresh and relevant.

  4. Learn business strategies: A successful photography business requires more than just great photos. Investing in education can teach you valuable business strategies such as marketing, pricing, branding, and client management. These skills are essential for growing your client base and generating revenue.

  5. Network with fellow photographers: Attending workshops or joining online communities allows you to connect with other boudoir photographers who may be facing similar challenges or have valuable insights to share. Building a network of peers can provide support, collaboration opportunities, and potential referrals.

  6. Improve client satisfaction: When you invest in education and improve your skills, it directly translates into better results for your clients. Being able to deliver high-quality images consistently will increase client satisfaction and generate positive word-of-mouth referrals.

Enhance your technical skills and artistic vision

Improving your technical skills and artistic vision is crucial for the success of your boudoir photography business. As a boudoir photographer, it's essential to have a strong foundation in techniques such as lighting, composition, posing, and editing.

Familiarize yourself with various styles and genres within the boudoir genre to expand your creative vision. By continuously honing these skills, you can produce stunning images that captivate your clients and set yourself apart from the competition.

Remember that being technically proficient not only boosts your confidence but also ensures consistent delivery of high-quality work that will impress your clients.

Focus on creating a strong brand identity

Creating a strong brand identity is essential for the success of your boudoir photography business. Your brand is not just about your logo or website design; it's about the image and reputation you establish in the minds of potential clients.

A well-crafted brand identity sets you apart from competitors and attracts your target audience. Consider factors such as your photography style, values, and unique selling proposition when developing your brand.

By creating a cohesive visual identity, incorporating consistent messaging across all touchpoints, and delivering exceptional client experiences that align with your brand promise, you can build trust and loyalty among clients.

Prioritize customer satisfaction and exceptional client experience

One of the key factors that can contribute to the failure of your photography business is neglecting customer satisfaction and providing an exceptional client experience. As a boudoir photographer, your clients are looking for more than just beautiful images - they want an intimate and empowering experience that makes them feel comfortable, confident, and valued.

By prioritizing customer satisfaction, you not only create loyal clients who will come back for repeat sessions but also generate positive word-of-mouth referrals. Take the time to communicate with your clients before the shoot to understand their vision and preferences.

During the session, make them feel at ease by creating a relaxed atmosphere and guiding them through poses that highlight their best features.

Exceptional client experience goes beyond the actual photoshoot as well. Respond promptly to inquiries or questions, provide clear communication throughout the process, deliver high-quality products on time, and follow up after the shoot to ensure their complete satisfaction.

Build a strong network of fellow photographers and potential clients

Networking is vital for the success of any photography business, including boudoir photography. By building a strong network of fellow photographers and potential clients, you can create valuable connections that can lead to collaborations, referrals, and ultimately more business. Here are some tips on how to effectively build your network:

  1. Attend photography workshops and conferences: Participating in industry events allows you to meet other photographers who share your passion and interests. Take the opportunity to strike up conversations, exchange ideas, and learn from each other's experiences.

  2. Join online communities and forums: Engaging in online communities specific to boudoir photography or general photography can provide a platform for networking with like-minded individuals. Share your work, ask questions, and contribute your insights to establish yourself as an active member of the community.

  3. Collaborate with other photographers: Working together on projects not only enhances your skills but also exposes you to new audiences. Seek out photographers with complementary styles or expertise and explore possibilities for joint ventures such as styled shoots or workshops.

  4. Offer mentorship or assistance: Sharing your knowledge and skills with aspiring photographers can help you develop relationships within the industry. By providing guidance or lending a helping hand when needed, you create goodwill that may be reciprocated in the future.

  5. Attend local meet-ups or networking events: Check if there are any local photography groups organizing meet-ups or networking events in your area. These gatherings provide opportunities to connect with potential clients who may be interested in booking a boudoir session.

  6. Utilize social media platforms effectively: Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook can serve as powerful tools for networking in today's digital age. Actively engage with fellow photographers by commenting on their posts, sharing their work, and establishing genuine connections.

  7. Offer referral incentives: Encourage satisfied clients to refer their friends or family members to your services by providing referral incentives such as discounts or special offers. Word-of-mouth recommendations from happy clients can significantly expand your network.

A candid shot of a photography workshop

Resources to Help You Succeed

To help you succeed in your photography business, there are various resources available. Photography workshops and courses provide valuable education and training to enhance your skills.

Online communities and forums for photographers offer a platform for networking, sharing knowledge, and gaining inspiration. Professional photography associations and organizations provide access to industry experts and opportunities for collaboration.

Additionally, utilizing effective marketing tools and strategies can boost your visibility among potential clients. Lastly, seeking business coaching or mentorship can provide guidance on growing a successful photography venture.

Photography workshops and courses

If you're a boudoir photographer whose business is struggling, one way to improve your photography skills and boost your business is by investing in photography workshops and courses. Here are some options to consider:

  1. Dane Sanders' "Fast Track Photographer": This book is a valuable resource for photographers looking to turn their passion into a successful business. It offers practical advice on marketing, branding, and client experience.

  2. CreativeLive: CreativeLive offers a wide range of online photography workshops taught by industry experts. From lighting techniques to post-processing tricks, these workshops can help you enhance your technical skills and artistic vision.

  3. The Boudoir Divas: The Boudoir Divas offer in-person workshops focused specifically on boudoir photography. They cover everything from posing and styling to marketing and building a strong brand identity.

  4. Professional Photography Associations: Joining professional associations like Professional Photographers of America (PPA) or Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) can provide access to educational resources, networking opportunities, and workshops conducted by experienced photographers.

  5. Local Photography Schools: Many community colleges and universities offer photography classes that cater to both beginners and advanced photographers. Taking these classes can help you refine your technical skills while also connecting with fellow photographers in your area.

Online communities and forums for photographers

As a boudoir photographer, it's important to surround yourself with like-minded professionals who can offer advice, support, and inspiration. Online communities and forums for photographers are excellent resources for connecting with others in the industry and gaining valuable insights. Here are some reasons why you should actively participate in these communities:

  1. Stay updated on industry trends: Being part of online photography communities allows you to stay informed about the latest trends, techniques, and styles in boudoir photography. This helps you keep your work fresh and relevant.

  2. Share ideas and seek feedback: These forums provide a platform to share your work and receive constructive feedback from fellow photographers. This can be invaluable in helping you improve your skills and refine your artistic vision.

  3. Learn from experienced professionals: Online communities often attract experienced professionals who are willing to share their knowledge and experiences. By engaging with them, you can learn tips and tricks of the trade that may not be easily accessible elsewhere.

  4. Find collaborations and networking opportunities: Connecting with other photographers through online communities opens up possibilities for collaboration on projects or referrals for clients. Building a strong network within the industry is crucial for business growth.

  5. Get answers to specific questions: If you have a burning question or need advice on a particular aspect of your boudoir photography business, online forums can be a valuable resource. You'll find experts who are willing to help and guide you based on their own experiences.

  6. Access educational resources: Many online photography communities offer educational resources such as tutorials, articles, webinars, and ebooks that can help you enhance your technical skills or gain insights into running a successful photography business.

  7. Gain exposure and build credibility: Active participation in these communities allows you to showcase your expertise by sharing tips, answering questions, or contributing valuable content. This helps establish yourself as an authority in the field which can lead to increased exposure and potential clients.

Professional photography associations and organizations

As a boudoir photographer, being part of professional photography associations and organizations can provide you with valuable resources, networking opportunities, and industry insights. Here are some reputable associations and organizations that can help you succeed in your photography business:

  1. Professional Photographers of America (PPA): PPA is the largest international nonprofit association created by photographers for photographers. They offer educational resources, certifications, competitions, and business support to help photographers thrive.

  2. Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI): WPPI focuses on wedding and portrait photography, offering conferences, workshops, competitions, and online learning platforms. Joining WPPI gives you access to a community of like-minded professionals in the industry.

  3. American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP): ASMP is dedicated to promoting the highest standards in photography business practices. They provide resources on legal rights, copyright protection, licensing guidelines, pricing strategies, and marketing techniques.

  4. National Association of Professional Child Photographers (NAPCP): NAPCP specializes in child and family photography. They offer networking events, educational materials, mentorship opportunities, image competitions, and exclusive discounts from industry partners.

  5. Association of International Boudoir Photographers (AIBP): AIBP is a community specifically designed for boudoir photographers. It offers educational resources on posing techniques, lighting setups, client communication strategies, and marketing tactics tailored to boudoir photography.

  6. Imaging USA: Organized by PPA annually since 1980s', Imaging USA is one of the largest photography conferences in North America. It brings together renowned speakers, vendors showcasing the latest gear and technologies, image competitions with critiques from experts, and networking opportunities to connect with other photographers.

  7. American Photographic Artists (APA): APA provides support to professional photographers across different genres through advocacy efforts, business tools & resources, and educational programs. Their mission is to foster creative success while promoting sustainable businesses practices and copyright protection.

Marketing tools and strategies

As a boudoir photographer, it's essential to have effective marketing tools and strategies in place to promote your business and attract potential clients. Here are some valuable marketing tips to help you succeed:

  1. Develop a strong online presence: Create a professional website showcasing your portfolio, services, and client testimonials. Utilize search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to improve your website's visibility in online searches.

  2. Use social media platforms: Establish profiles on popular social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Regularly post high-quality images, engage with your audience, and utilize hashtags relevant to boudoir photography.

  3. Collaborate with influencers and bloggers: Partnering with influencers in the boudoir or wedding industry can significantly boost your reach and credibility. Offer complimentary sessions or discounts in exchange for promotion on their blogs or social media accounts.

  4. Leverage email marketing: Collect email addresses from interested individuals and previous clients for an email marketing campaign. Send out regular newsletters featuring sneak peeks of your work, upcoming promotions, or exclusive offers.

  5. Offer referral programs: Encourage satisfied clients to refer their friends by implementing a referral program. Provide incentives such as discounts, free prints, or additional session time for each successful referral.

  6. Attend bridal shows and events: Participate in local bridal shows or events targeting engaged couples. Display eye-catching samples of your work and distribute promotional materials like brochures or business cards.

  7. Collaborate with local businesses: Partner with other wedding-related businesses such as wedding planners, makeup artists, or bridal boutiques to cross-promote each other's services through joint marketing efforts.

  8. Utilize paid advertising options: Consider running targeted ads through platforms like Google AdWords or Facebook Ads to reach a broader audience who may be interested in boudoir photography.

  9. Offer mini-sessions or themed promotions: Create limited-time offers like Valentine's Day mini-sessions or seasonal themed shoots to generate buzz and attract new clients.

  10. Engage with photography communities: Join online photography forums or local photography groups to network with fellow photographers and potential clients. Share your expertise, answer questions, and build relationships within the industry.

Business coaching and mentorship opportunities

As a boudoir photographer, it's important to recognize that running a successful photography business requires more than just technical skills and a creative eye. To overcome the challenges you may be facing, consider seeking out business coaching and mentorship opportunities. Here are some reasons why this can be beneficial for your photography business:

  1. Gain valuable insights: Working with a business coach or mentor who has experience in the photography industry can provide valuable insights and guidance. They can help you navigate common pitfalls, identify areas for improvement, and offer solutions to overcome challenges.

  2. Learn from their success: By working closely with a mentor or coach who has achieved success in the boudoir photography industry, you can learn from their experiences and apply their strategies to your own business. They can share tips on marketing, pricing, client management, and more.

  3. Accountability and motivation: A coach or mentor will hold you accountable for setting goals and taking action towards achieving them. This accountability factor can help keep you motivated and focused on growing your business.

  4. Networking opportunities: A mentor or coach often has an extensive network within the industry. Through their connections, they can introduce you to other professionals, potential clients, or resources that can further enhance your photography business.

  5. Personal development: Business coaching and mentorship extend beyond just your photography skills. They also focus on personal development by helping you build confidence in yourself as a photographer and entrepreneur.

  6. RUN, as quickly as possible from internet fake photography "gurus" and shady "get rich quick" courses. Save your money. There are not shortcuts. The only person benefitting from that course is the person taking your money.


In conclusion, if your photography business is failing, it's important to consider the possibility that you may be a bad photographer. While this might not be an easy truth to accept, acknowledging and addressing any weaknesses in your skills and knowledge can be the key to turning things around.

With dedication, education, and a focus on improving both your technical abilities and business acumen, you can set yourself up for success in the competitive world of professional photography.

Don't let pride or fear prevent you from taking an honest look at yourself – it's the first step towards growth and achieving your goals.


1. What are some signs that my photography business may be failing?

Some signs that your photography business may be failing include a decline in bookings or inquiries, decreased customer satisfaction or reviews, difficulty attracting new clients, and financial struggles.

2. How can I improve as a photographer if no one is telling me the truth?

Seeking honest feedback from trusted mentors, joining supportive photography communities or groups where constructive criticism is encouraged, investing in professional development courses or workshops, and objectively evaluating your own work can all help you improve as a photographer.

3. What steps can I take to revive my failing photography business?

To revive a failing photography business, consider reevaluating your target market and adjusting your marketing strategies accordingly, enhancing the quality of your portfolio through focused practice and skill-building exercises, improving customer service and communication skills to enhance client experience and satisfaction, seeking out networking opportunities to expand your industry connections, and analyzing and adjusting pricing structures if necessary.

4. Is it possible for someone with little natural talent in photography to succeed in the industry?

While natural talent can provide an initial advantage in the world of photography, success ultimately comes down to dedication, hard work, continuous learning and improvement. With determination and perseverance combined with honing technical skills through practice and education anyone passionate about photography can develop their abilities enough to thrive professionally.

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