Starting your own portrait business is overwhelming. There are many things to consider, from equipment purchases to choosing a company name, and everything in between. The best advice I can share (that I wish someone shared with me) is simply, don’t walk this path alone.

Being a small business owner can be isolating. As a portrait photographer, you may only ever see another person when you are actually doing a photo session. During my first year in business, I spent countless hours figuring out basic business questions on my own. What lab should I use? Where should I get albums and other products? How much should I charge for a session, or for prints? Should I just sell digital files? AM I DOING IT RIGHT? While all of these questions must be answered individually, it sure does help to have advice and opinions from others!

I had been in business for about two years when I joined NAPCP (National Association for Professional Child Photographers). It was the single greatest thing I did for myself and my business. Through this organization, I was able to network and meet other local photographers. The member forum provided a trusted place to give and receive valuable advice about everything pertaining to my photography business. I finally felt like I was part of something. I shared a profession with many wonderful people, all of whom experienced the same challenges I faced.

Since joining NAPCP, I have attended annual retreats where I received incredible personal and professional inspiration. I have since volunteered my time as a moderator and mentor for NAPCP and I truly enjoy sharing any and all humble advice that I can offer. To be honest, Alice Park (founder of NAPCP), has no idea that I’m writing this article about the organization she started. But she has been such an inspiration to me since we met many years ago, always giving of herself to others and always a positive influence.

Now, years later, I have an amazing network of fellow photographers whom I call my friends. We share business practices, successes, failures, challenges, and most importantly – we celebrate each other on a personal level.

Several of us gathered at my studio to capture Alice & Kyu Park’s first born son.


And we recently showered our friend Katie Torres (6 of Four Photography) with love and friendship before the birth of her son.

If you are new to the photography industry, you may think you don’t have much to offer. But everyone has great ideas and everyone can be a positive influence for change! So join a photography club, group, online forum, or NAPCP. Just get out there and meet people. You’ll need someone to celebrate with when you experience all your successes!

About Crystal James:
Crystal James is the owner and photographer behind Tiny Heart Studios where the mottos is “it’s all about love.”  Crystal has a studio in Marietta, GA, where she photographs newborns, but prefers to document families and children outdoors so they can run, laugh, and be silly together.  A native of California, she now calls Atlanta home after being there for more than 12 years.  When she’s not behind the camera, you’ll find Crystal playing tennis, driving carpool for her kids, or researching the latest organic food movement.

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