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Interview with Heather Chesky | GBPW Episode 130

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Heather Chesky.

I got my start when I got laid off from my day job many, many years ago. I was thrust into full-time photography and trying to figure out how to get more clients and make a living from photography. It’s been a wild ride.

Heather Chesky

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This week, I speak with American photographer Heather Chesky, who runs a successful photography business and helps photographers build their own businesses. In addition to providing her clients with photography services, she offers self-defence classes. She manages all of this while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Interested in finding out how she juggles all of this? Listen to our conversation today!

We talk about:

  • having a healthy work-life balance
  • using special tricks to earn more money from every photo shoot
  • providing clients with an unforgettable shooting experience
    & much more!

Heather shares a lot of valuable tips in this episode, so if you’re interested in boosting your business or improving your relationship with clients, this episode is perfect for you.

Here is a preview of our conversation with Heather Chesky.

Q: You started photographing after you lost your day job. What was that like and how did it lead to photography?

Heather Chesky: I was working in education and I was doing photography on the side. I loved photography and really wanted to shift into full-time photography, but I was just scared. I had no marketing training and no business training whatsoever.

Years ago, my manager asked to see me in the conference room. I just knew in my gut that it was not going to be good news. I was right. He proceeded to tell me that the company was going through some layoffs and I was next on the list. It was a really interesting feeling because on the one hand, I was scared. I had just lost my income. On the other hand, I was so grateful for this opportunity.

I felt like I finally had this opportunity to pursue what I was really passionate about. Losing my job was one of the best things that ever happened for me because it was the thing that pushed me into doing what I said I wanted to do. There was no safety net.

Q: What are your photoshoots like?

Heather Chesky: My hair and makeup artist meets my clients before I do, and she gets them all ready to go. I come about an hour and a half later. We spend about 90-ish minutes photographing. My clients usually get around 3-4 outfit changes. We run through different poses, different lighting scenarios, different backdrops, etc.

I like to direct my clients. The majority of my clients are very uncomfortable in front of the camera. I talk to them a lot and direct them. I tell them where to put their hands, how to pose well, and so on.

After the shoot, I do something called “same day viewing”. My clients will go to eat at this time. but I bring my laptop to every single shoot and download all of my images right away. After that, I will quickly cull through them and then lightly edit the ones that I’m going to show my clients. Within about an hour, I have a selection of 50-60 images that I’m going to show them.

I’ll meet back up with my clients for the image reveal and we’ll spend the next hour going through the pictures I took. That’s when they actually pick the ones that they want to purchase. I also show them the products that I offer: albums, canvases, prints, etc., and they make their selection that evening. After they pay me, I go home and hang out with my family!

Q: What is your definition of success in photography?

Heather Chesky: I think every single person has a different definition. My definition of success in photography would be serving my clients and my photography students really, really well. Specifically for my students, I want them to understand and to actually experience the joy that comes from making a consistent living doing what they love, and also being the the husband, the wife, the mom, the dad who’s home and can actually enjoy family life as well.

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Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.
Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.
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