Why Letting Yourself Be Seen Authentically Is Important for Your Photography Business

February 18, 2021

After being in business for more than a decade, I’m always amazed by the things that *actually* impact my photography business’s growth and forward motion. While on the outside, I’m a lifestyle and family photographer in the Sacramento area—when you peel back the curtain, my business is so much more than a nice camera and […]

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I'm a photographer, educator and weekly podcaster. I left teaching in a First Grade classroom to build a thriving photography business, and inspire and teach other like-minded women how to build, scale, and create a photo business. I am so excited to meet you!


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After being in business for more than a decade, I’m always amazed by the things that *actually* impact my photography business’s growth and forward motion. While on the outside, I’m a lifestyle and family photographer in the Sacramento area—when you peel back the curtain, my business is so much more than a nice camera and fancy edits.

In fact, I honestly think anyone could purchase a camera and start their own photography business… but not everyone has what it takes to sustain that business long-term. At least, they may not realize the characteristics required to achieve longevity and maintain their passion in this sort of creative-fueled business.

One of the MAIN things that I’ve found that’s not only a benefit to my business, but also a necessity, is authenticity. Letting who you are as a human being show—flaws, quirks, mess-ups, and all—can actually improve your business more than you might ever realize…

… which seems a little backwards, doesn’t it?

Why would we want to showcase our imperfections or messiness in order to grow a business? It’s simpler than you might realize… let’s get into it a little deeper.


Why authenticity is important for your photography business

Let me tell you from firsthand experience, sharing the not-so-shiny parts of life and your story is the #1 thing that can humanize your business and make you more real and desirable to work with.

Why? Because people connect with real people.

We connect with stories. We connect with honesty. We want to see the grit and resilience and mistakes that led someone to where they are now. We don’t want to see picture-perfect stories and fairytale happily-ever-afters (at least, not without knowing the winding road that led to that happily-ever-after).

For a long time, I led with perfectionism because it felt safest. I didn’t want to share the real me that has struggled with trust and imposter syndrome and insecurities. Sharing those “darker” pieces of my story and experiences felt like a quick way to flush my business down the toilet.

But then I started following leaders like Brene Brown, and I began learning about the way vulnerability and authenticity impact connection. Basically? Vulnerability sparks all authentic connection.

And not just in our interpersonal relationships, either. With a business like photography that’s so creative and personal, it makes sense that we should weave our own stories into our messaging.

In fact, our stories are what set us apart from other great photographers who share more surface-level content. Our stories endear our dream clients to us because they show our own humanity, courage, and ability to overcome hardship. People WANT to see that side of you, trust me.


The power of telling your story & finding your dream clients

Your dream clients want to know who you are. They want to know why they should care to work with you, and so framing your story in a way that showcases the real, unfiltered you gives them an opportunity to get to know you and connect with you on a deeper level than a quick email or basic Instagram posts allow.

(No shade to basic Instagram posts, either. Your girl loves those, too!)

I’ve shared a bit about this before, but when I began sharing my “why” behind what I do and the reason I adore photographing families, it changed everything for me. My parents divorced at a young age, and I always felt like there was a disconnect in our family unit because of their split. Growing up, I’d enviously watch my friends and their families with married parents, wishing I could have that same sort of bond and unification in my own family.

It’s why it’s so important to me now to prioritize my husband and my kids, and it’s why I so deeply cherish commemorating other families’ milestones and memories in family photography sessions. It literally doesn’t feel like work to me, because it’s so meaningful and significant. And that came from a challenging upbringing that showed me what is truly important: family, memories, and choosing one another.

I don’t share this openly with my audience as some sort of cheap “business strategy.” I share it because it’s my truth! It’s an important piece of my journey that helps my clients understand who I am and why I do what I do. It lets them see that I care deeply about them, their story and memories, their experience with me, and the images I capture for them.


Don’t be afraid to share your story

All this to say… your story matters. Your past matters, hiccups and bruises and all. You can never change the past—but you can use it as fuel for your “why.” How has the pain you’ve experienced impacted your journey? What did the mistakes show you along the way?

Start sharing those—and don’t worry, you can start small with little pieces of your journey—and just see what happens. I have a feeling you’ll start building raw, authentic connections with people you actually want to work with. And I have a feeling your photography business might just skyrocket as a result!


If you want to read more photography education tips make sure to take a read of this post here on the mistakes I see beginner photographers make.

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I’m Jillian Goulding, a photographer and educator raising babies and building my life in Sacramento, CA.

Over the years, I’ve transformed my side hustle into a thriving photography business that has taken me and my camera to the beaches of San Francisco Bay, the pages of People Magazine, and the screens of Extra TV.

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