Join us as we continue our series of Q&A’s from some of our fabulous contributors as we showcase some of their recent work. Are you a contributor (or interested in becoming one) and would love a feature? Contact us here!
Today we are pleased to feature the wonderful Sharon Litchfield. Enjoy ~
Tell us about your studio, style and approach:
I am Sharon Litchfield, a wedding and portrait photographer based out of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. My style has really transformed/matured/developed over the years. When I first started, I had not yet found my own aesthetics and adapted my style to fit my clients, no matter how different or contrasting. Now that I’m more confident and got to know myself as a photographer, I shoot for myself more often. I’ve now garnered an audience who trusts and supports me. I finally feel safe to experiment and to reinvent my work and I try to challenge myself with each photo session. My approach to photography is always getting to know my subject really well and build a rapport with them. My clients become my friend. It’s important they trust me when my camera is in front of them and they’re being captured in some of their happiest, and sometimes, most vulnerable moments.
If you had to sum up your style in 1-2 sentences what would you say:
Even though I have found my own look, I still believe in adapting to what my subjects give me and who they are as people. So, the overall style and mood of the session varies. Some sessions turn out light and airy, other ones more dark and moody. I would say my style is current, comfortable and always true to who my subjects are.
How do you ensure you have a sustainable business:
Referrals - The majority of my business comes from word of mouth and referrals from past clients. I think the reason I’ve been able to have a sustainable business for 8 years now is because I truly do treat my clients like gold. I ensure everyone who walks through my studio doors feel special and has an amazing experience from start to finish.
Also, you belong to a community that shares the same passions and motivations as you. Find like-minded individuals and see if you can collaborate with them. Being supported and offering support is so important. Ask for advice, be generous with your own, listen to constructive criticism and ignore the rest.
Strategic Cash-flow Management - this one is kind of nerdy. I read somewhere that the number one reason small businesses fail is because of poor cash-flow management, i.e. running out of money. How it affects a photography business is that our busy seasons happen during certain parts of the year (at least in Canada), while expenditures may occur in different parts of the year such as albums, upkeep of equipment, and education to name a few. The solution? Evenly split up deposits across the year to smooth out cash flows. Secondly, ensure you have a buffer of short term cash needs to cover cash outflows.
Social Media - I resisted for a long time until I realized its impact. Take advantage of these free platforms to get your work out there and grow a following. Online exposure is huge. You never know who is seeing your work and opportunities will come out of it.
What are your best selling products:
Albums are by far my number 1 sellers - from engagement guestbook albums to wedding albums. I find albums sell themselves without a need for a sales pitch. During consults, I show my portfolio with various samples albums. In this digital age where we look at photos via social media platforms on our devices, the experience of flipping through an album, touching the page, and even down to the smell of the album allows for a meaningful experience.
What are your top 3 tips for success:
Perseverance - I’m sure a lot of photographers will agree with me that, at one point or another, they’ve contemplated quitting. This business requires some pretty thick skin. It’s easy to look at your peers’ work and successes and feel sorry for yourself. It’s definitely not easy on the ego. Remember: stay focused on your own goals, don’t compare yourself to others, do the time, and work really hard.
Positive Self Concept/Outlook - Often, the things we think we’re incapable of is a false perception we made up for yourselves. If you believe in yourself, you will find ways to make it work. And if you don’t believe in yourself or if it’s not the right direction for you, you’ll find excuses.
Education and staying current - We’re very lucky that the photography industry is full of online resources, conferences, workshops, and mentorships. I’m a firm believer that there’s always something to learn. Staying up to date with what’s new and trendy in the industry, acquiring new skills or polishing up old ones gives you a competitive edge.
~ Stay tuned for more Q&A posts from our wonderful contributing photographers.
To view more of Sharon's work, visit her at sharonlitchfield.com.
From a very early age I loved taking pictures and looking at them in magazines and books, but the art of photography captured my heart when I was a teenager, on my first overseas trip to Wales. From that point, I began shooting with a little film SLR and having my friend model for me. In college I took some digital photography and visual communication courses as part of my communication studies major, and decided to pursue a career in photography. I became a legal business and took my first paid client at age 20, and it's been quite a journey and adventure over the past nine years.
I secretly bought a mail-order 35mm camera when I was 15, and took lots of ordinary photos of animals and nature for several years. Although I majored in art and studied photography in college, my career started in marketing and advertising, from the client service end. Then I had the most beautiful baby, found my old camera and realized how much I love photographing people.