Recorded: Welcome to The ReWork with Allison Tyler Jones, a podcast dedicated to inspiring portrait photographers to uniquely brand, profitably price, and confidently sell their best work. Allison has been doing just that for the last 15 years, and she’s proven that it’s possible to create unforgettable art and run a portrait business that supports your family and your dreams. All it takes is a little rework. Episodes will include interviews with experts from in and outside of the photo industry, many workshops, and behind the scenes secrets that Allison uses in her portrait studio every single day. She will challenge your thinking and inspire your confidence to create a profitable, sustainable portrait business you love through continually refining and reworking your business. Let’s do the rework!

Allison Tyler Jones: Hi friends, and welcome back to The ReWork. I think we can all agree that the last couple of years there’s been some dark spots. It’s been hard, and I think sometimes we feel like everything seems hard and we’re pushing things uphill, but today’s guest is going to help you feel differently. My guest is Miss Cindy Crofford from Houston, Texas, of Cindy Crofford Photography. Anybody that’s met Cindy, anybody that knows Cindy knows she is a ray of sunshine and a font of wisdom. Some of it has been gleaned from her mother who raised her to think well of herself and to think well of others, and she’s going to share some of that wisdom with us.

Allison Tyler Jones: We are going to talk about what we are doing to heal the pain of the world and how we can use the skills that we have as photographers to help our clients see the best in themselves and each other. Can’t wait. Let’s do it. Well, I am so excited to welcome the one, the only, Cindy Crofford to The ReWork podcast. I have to tell my Cindy Crofford story. Can I tell my Cindy Crofford story before you talk?

Cindy Crofford: Of course.

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay, so I don’t know exactly what year it was, but it was a darkened room in a talk that I had to give at Imaging one year.I think it was in Nashville. Was it Nashville? No, Atlanta.

Cindy Crofford: I think it was Atlanta.

Allison Tyler Jones: It was Atlanta, and I was feeling nervous. To get over my nerves, I go into the audience and talk to people, and you were right there and you were so kind and so encouraging to me and it just made me feel, not scared at all. I felt like I had at least one friend in the room, so thank you for that. That’s my first recollection, and my opinion of you has not changed since then. I only just love you more.

Cindy Crofford: That is so sweet. I feel the same way about you, seriously.

Allison Tyler Jones: Well, I appreciate you.

Cindy Crofford: And I can’t imagine you being nervous.

Allison Tyler Jones: Oh yes. No, always for sure. I wanted to have you on the podcast because you’re also a member, a founding member, no less, of our Mind Shift Membership, and you always contribute such great insights and wisdom. I feel like you’re just the backbone of the community, so I didn’t want to keep that under lock and key. I wanted to share that with all of our listeners today. I would love for you to kind of tell a little bit about yourself, and then I’m going to ask you some questions.

Cindy Crofford: Okay. Well, my name is Cindy Crofford. I grew up in Amarillo, Texas, the panhandle of Texas, and I’ve always loved photography. There is a picture that I have to find somewhere, in all of my mother’s albums, of me with a camera at a church groundbreaking. And I-

Allison Tyler Jones: Cute.

Cindy Crofford: -take my camera, and I’ve always loved photography. My degree is in education from the University of Texas. Taught school for five years, then wanted to stay home, but also have always … I was raised by a mom that I think had the same struggle that I did. I think she was a real power woman and didn’t know it, and she wanted to work, and loved working, but she also wanted to be home so she told them, “I can’t work past 3:00. I want to be there when Cindy walks in.”

Allison Tyler Jones: You’re an only child, right?

Cindy Crofford: Only child.

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay.

Cindy Crofford: And she had all her eggs in one basket.

Allison Tyler Jones: Perfect child, yes.

Cindy Crofford: Yeah. Well, not quite that, but I’ll have to tell you some funny stories about that later. I really have always felt a drive inside me, and I do better when I’m working. I do better when I am producing and have deadlines and feel very accomplished at the end of the day. I was staying home with my second child and I was just, “What can I do to be a good mom?” That struggle to be a good mom.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. It’s that binary. If you’re a good mom, you don’t do things for yourself.

Cindy Crofford: Yeah, yeah.

Allison Tyler Jones: And if you do things for yourself, you’re not a good mom.

Cindy Crofford: That’s right.

Allison Tyler Jones: It’s bull crap. Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: It is. But anyhow, in fact, I got a text from someone today, that she felt like I was her own personal mentor, that because she saw my drive to be a good mom and be a good business person. It’s funny because I don’t remember projecting that particularly.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: About it.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Cindy Crofford: Just something-

Allison Tyler Jones: But we can’t be the judge of what we actually put out there, right? It’s kind of the interpretation of how other people see us, which is always fascinating, but kind of frightening at the same time.

Cindy Crofford: And what they pick up, like, “Oh, did I say that, or did I mean that?”

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Cindy Crofford: “Did they interpret it a certain way?” But nonetheless, I wanted to do something, and a friend of mine, she said, “Cindy, you’ve always got your camera. Why don’t you do something with photography?” Previous to this, I had taken all kinds of classes back when there were little, individual camera stores.

Allison Tyler Jones: Sure.

Cindy Crofford: Have lecture, can come in. So I took all of those all around Houston. Then I went to Rice University and took a continuing education course, and that was a semester long course. The professor said, “By the way, I’m doing a class in San Miguel de Allende this summer and it’ll be two, three-week sessions.” I was like, “I’m going,” and I had a one-year-old and I left-

Allison Tyler Jones: Really?

Cindy Crofford: For three weeks to San Miguel, and I still can’t believe I did it, but I has a wonderful mother and a wonderful mother-in-law that backed me up and supported me and my kids.

Allison Tyler Jones: Aww, that’s so great.

Cindy Crofford: So I spent three weeks photographing in San Miguel de Allende, and came home, opened a business. It was Memories by Cindy and it was photographing children, birthday parties. Well, it took about two-

Allison Tyler Jones: So when was this?

Cindy Crofford: That was in 1980 … Let’s see, Kristen was born in ’78, so about ’81.

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay.

Cindy Crofford: Or ’80 because I had a one-year-old, she was born in late ’78.

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay.

Cindy Crofford: So I opened a business, decided real quick that I didn’t want to go to children’s birthday parties. But what I realized was that after the birthday party, I spent time photographing the child and did portraits. 

Allison Tyler Jones: Yes!

Cindy Crofford: That was kind of step one, so I decided to start a portrait business and my friend, Sue Bennett, who I love dearly and owe so much to, called me and said, “You have got a session on Wednesday and they’re expecting you.” And I said, “Oh no, no. I’m not good enough yet.” And she said, “Well, that’s too bad because they want you to come.” I was substitute teaching and in one session, I made more than I did the whole month substitute teaching. I was like, “Oh, I can do this.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: That’s kind of how it all started.

Allison Tyler Jones: I love that. What I’m taking away from that is part of it’s luck, but part of it is your own drive. You were lucky to be born to a mother who facilitated your dreams and what you wanted to do. You were lucky that you had a mom that was a driver herself, maybe a little bit of a woman before her time, so to speak, but she was perfectly willing to facilitate you. And then also, your willingness to do something really scary that, even as you’re telling me, “I can’t believe I did it, but I went away with a one-year-old.” I’m sure there had to be a lot of internal judgment about that at the time, like, “How dare I do it?” But you did it anyway because you felt compelled to do it. So I think that those are really good, and those kids, they were living in hog heaven with the grandmas!

Cindy Crofford: Yes, they were!

Allison Tyler Jones: Nobody’s going to be on a couch at 40 over being left for a couple of weeks while you went and-

Cindy Crofford: They absolutely are not.

Allison Tyler Jones: I love that. That is awesome. Okay, so a lot of the things that you have shared with us in the Mind Shift Membership have been wisdom from your mom. Tell me a little bit about your mom. She has a very great name.

Cindy Crofford: Ilma Beryldine Broaddus Lynn.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yes. Ilma Beryl.

Cindy Crofford: Ilma Beryl. That’s right, Aunt B. I really have to also interject that I had a wonderful father too. I talk a lot about my mother, I guess maybe just being a woman.

Allison Tyler Jones: Sure.

Cindy Crofford: And I also really saw her drive, but I also had great input from my dad, a lot of which was making me say whether it was my needer or my wanter, and one time he told me my wanter worked overtime. A lot of the financial side, I think, maybe came from him as well. But with my mom, she grew up in the Depression. She didn’t get to go to a lot of things after school and she had to go home, so she always felt a little bit ill at ease in social situations. She put me in a lot of social situations. I don’t think it was like, “Oh, I’m going to.” She just wanted me to be comfortable and at ease, and I do think that’s one of the things that I do best is I can fit in with a person this way or I can-

Allison Tyler Jones: But she had specific ideas about that. She didn’t just say, “Oh, I want you to fit in,” but she said there were specific things. What did she say to you? There were specific things she said to you.

Cindy Crofford: She said, “Cindy, I want you to go up and go and learn how to be with people,” and then she would add, “All kinds of people.” And then she would say, “And find something you like about them.” I think that that was, without a doubt … If I had to probably say one thing, that the thread through my whole life was learning how to love people. Even now I feel like it’s just my natural reflex. Someone comes in and you just are scanning them for the good.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: And then you figure out, “Well, what is it I like about them?” So it’s easy to photograph people and love them and seeing the good in them.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right, but that’s a superpower. I’m going to tell you something from the outside, looking in, but it might seem easy for you because that’s how you were raised and your mom was very intentional in parenting you that way. That is not something that comes natural to everybody, and not everybody was raised that way. Clearly, the situation that our country is in right now is that if everybody had been raised by Ilma Beryldine, that we would be in a lot better place, right, because we would be understanding and loving each other. But I think there’s a germ there that I just want to call out. It’s so true that if you really love people and you could see the good. I’ve had people say to me many times, “All of your clients are so good looking,” and I’m like, “Well, I think they are too,” but if you really break it down, you could probably say, “Maybe that’s not technically true.” But when you believe that somebody has worth and that you truly love something about everybody that you photograph, they really are beautiful.

Cindy Crofford: I couldn’t agree more. It’s almost like you take the layers off that might be body language offensive-

Allison Tyler Jones: Sure.

Cindy Crofford: And just start. They’re comfortable, and they just bloom. They just become themselves. I lean a lot on my faith and I feel that God says we’re fearfully and wonderfully made, so I take Him at His word.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: And so I think that a person is truly fearfully and wonderfully made. They can be totally opposites, but I still can enjoy.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. There’s something great in there. So for people that maybe either are shy, maybe more introverted, feel like maybe they struggle socially, or maybe feel like, “Yeah, I don’t love everybody. Actually, I just kind of started this as a side hustle thinking I could make some extra money, but I don’t actually love everybody.” Do you feel like that’s something that you could develop and if you could, is there a couple of steps that maybe you could give our listeners, or maybe if they’re feeling a little burnt out by over-peopleing. That has to happen to you. You have to, in the busy season, get to the point where you’re like, “Okay, I’ve just peopled too much today.” What do you do to overcome that? Or how would you suggest that-

Cindy Crofford: I don’t get tired of the people. I really don’t. In fact, Kathy will be like, “You got to find someone to photograph because …” and even when I was married, Gary was like, “You need to photograph someone.” I just am energized by it. What I am not energized by is sitting at that computer and trying sort through things, so that’s what frazzles me.

Allison Tyler Jones: Interesting.

Cindy Crofford: But to find the good in people, maybe that’s just how I’m wired. I don’t know. Let me give you a little bit. Maybe this is digressing and maybe, I think, this applies.

Allison Tyler Jones: Do it.

Cindy Crofford: I had such a good year last year, and I had really paid my taxes, making those estimated payments.

Allison Tyler Jones: Sure.

Cindy Crofford: And I still owed, so my CPA told me, “Why don’t you open a SEP -IRA?” Now, Mother and Daddy both taught me things, but I also got the message, “You need to get a good man and let him handle those things.” This year, by myself, I go to Fidelity and open up a SEP-IRA. I made myself sit there in the uncomfortableness and the anxiousness and the anxiety of making a decision, being in control of the decision.

Cindy Crofford: I just sat there and I thought, “My heart is pounding.” I asked all the questions, and I am learning over the past few years to sit in my uncomfortableness, my anxiety. I think I’ve done a really good job of managing my business, but making investment decisions and things like that are uncomfortable and anxiety-producing. So I think, put yourself in those situations and then just look at the people and find out. An Uber driver once asked me if I was a lawyer and I said, “No, I was married to one once.” And he said, “Well, you sure ask lots of questions.”

Allison Tyler Jones: That’s hilarious.

Cindy Crofford: All you have to do is ask people about themselves and be truly interested in them.

Allison Tyler Jones: I love that.

Cindy Crofford: I’m going to rewind back to the first time I remember, watching someone, how they acted and behaved in a manner that I want to copy. Her name was Joan Snodgrass. Gary was in law school, and I watched how Joan acted so enthusiastic and, “Let’s get together sometime!” Her voice was full of enthusiasm, and I literally made a decision. “I can act like that,” and I did.

Allison Tyler Jones: I love that.

Cindy Crofford: It was the first time that I remember watching someone and thinking, “I can copy.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. Well, you also saw the value in being around somebody like that, at that, “I want to be like that.” Don’t you think when you start down a road like that, whenever you’re trying something new, it is uncomfortable.

Cindy Crofford: Mm-hmm.

Allison Tyler Jones: So you have to stick with it, work through the uncomfortable. There’s always that little bit of “fake it till you make it.” Maybe you don’t 100% feel it. So somebody that’s maybe an introvert is getting into this business, feeling like maybe they don’t really gel with clients, or as much as they would like to. It comes with practice, just like the craft of photography itself.

Cindy Crofford: It comes with practice.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. It comes with practice. And I think the older we get, I’ve also heard photographers say, “I think it’s maybe just too late. Maybe I just got started too late,” and I’m like, “Oh, honey.” I feel like the older I get, the more I have the superpower of age in that maturity and that ability to help younger parents with their kids, and talk to younger moms. I feel like that’s just as much part of the experience as photographing them.

Cindy Crofford: Absolutely.

Allison Tyler Jones: Helping them parent their kids.

Cindy Crofford: And you feel like you absolutely, actually have knowledge and value.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: And you think, “Don’t worry about that,” or “It’s okay if you’re a few minutes late.” The other day I photographed a family that was in trouble, and meaning that they were not sure they were going to make it as a family.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: And I sat and talked to the dad. I sat and talked to the mom, and I said, “Receive this gift from your husband, that he wants to have a wonderful family portrait,” and talked to the dad about chilling with his kids if they were being a little bit-

Allison Tyler Jones: Crazy.

Cindy Crofford: Not getting ready or whatever. And if you saw those pictures, you would never know that was a family in trouble. When he left, he turned around and looked to me. When he left the session, he looked at me and he goes, “I think we did it,” and then he texted me and said, “We had a blast.” Then, when they came to see the viewing and ordering, they had a sizable order … When he walked out the door, he kind of winked and said, “We had a very good result from this.” Even if it does fall apart, those grown boys are going to remember.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: Our family, there is value here.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: And I feel like I’m old enough now to say, “Say those things.” If I was 20, I don’t think I could say them with such authority and assurance.

Allison Tyler Jones: No, and you’d be worried about the clothes and you’re just not in that same place. You don’t have the same perspective.

Cindy Crofford: No.

Allison Tyler Jones: I love it. I think about, I don’t know if you ever read the book, Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In.

Cindy Crofford: No, I haven’t read it, but I’ve heard.

Allison Tyler Jones: It’s great. It is balls to the wall, girl power, lean in, be at the boardroom, drive, drive, drive. But right after that, I read Arianna Huffington’s Thrive, and she’s older, so she’s in her 60s. Sheryl Sandberg was in, I think, her 40s when she wrote that book. To see the difference in those two women, both powerhouses, both amazing businesswomen, but Arianna Huffington’s is definitely much more about family and just more perspective. I loved reading both of those books for that reason, and I think what you’re such an example of is you’ve been the married, young mom. You’ve been the single, older woman.

Allison Tyler Jones: You’ve been the business owner for many years, and you’ve always made that work for you in all of those iterations, when you’ve had little kids and older kids and now empty nester-type kids. Going back to Beryldine, mom, I want to ask you about … There was something that she said. Oh, you know what? It was from church. Hang on. That was not the same thing. There was something that you said on a Q&A couple of weeks ago, and they were talking about the wise men and that sort of thing, so if anybody’s listening to this and you’re thinking that we’re going to get religious on you, don’t turn it off because this is applicable regardless of your faith practice.

Cindy Crofford: Exactly. One of my really wonderful, new friends, who’s young who said she thought I was a personal mentor, she is Muslim and I love her. We just love being around her. If you want to call it the universe, if you want to call it God-

Allison Tyler Jones: It doesn’t matter. Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: It doesn’t matter to me. But I was in a Bible study and the leader was talking about Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh, and she explained what each one of them was used for. Of course Gold is obvious, but the Frankincense, she explained that. And then, she talked about Myrrh and she said Myrrh was used to heal pain. She then asked the group, but I heard it as if it was to me, “What are you doing to heal the pain of the world?” Allison, without a doubt, I heard, I don’t know how to tell you, “Cindy, that is what your business is going to do.”

Allison Tyler Jones: So good.

Cindy Crofford: I felt like I had a real, strong mission, strong, “Here’s what I’m doing.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: And I have-

Allison Tyler Jones: Kind of your why, your purpose. A purpose.

Cindy Crofford: A purpose. Yeah.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. I love that because that story that you just told about that family, I think many of us who’ve been in business for quite a while have had situations like that, where somebody looks at images and they’re like, “It looks like we’re happy, but I don’t know if we’re going to make it,” or you’ve seen fights happen or you’ve seen a really lovely family, but maybe they have a kid that’s struggling. There’s so many hard things that kids are dealing with right now, especially over the last couple of years, and that is something that photography, portrait photography in particular, we really can help heal the pain of families and heal the pain of the world by showing them their best selves.

Cindy Crofford: It might be for 1/100th of a second.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: Take all the anger away. Take all the resentment, the list of things you’ve kept, and look. Look how we look. And I can also say it from a divorced point of view, that wasn’t the story I wanted. I would’ve not written that, but it is not the only story that has a good ending and-

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly.

Cindy Crofford: I can encourage them, “Give this a try.” I mean, I always called it, and I’ve always done this is. I called it flipping your thinking, so learn to flip your thinking and think in a different way. How can I look at this situation differently? How can I look at that husband I’m married to differently, or that child? Is there something that the child is … How can I see differently? How can I see, perhaps, the pain or the things that they are struggling with?

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah, in a different way. We can provide that because we are that, you could call it a disinterested third party. You could call it a photographer. You have the eyes. You’re trying to show that family at their best, not just the skinniest, not just the youngest, but actually that they love each other, and you’re trying to show that because it’s there.

Cindy Crofford: It is there.

Allison Tyler Jones: But sometimes you got to dig for it just a little bit.

Cindy Crofford: I’ve kind of recently come up with the phrase of someone who loves to find joy and save it, and that’s what I think we’re doing is we are finding the joy, whether we’re uncovering everything and then we see it. We’re going to save it. We’re going to put it on the wall. And we’re going to say, “You are so important to me,” and this is why I’m doing it. Not only is it the kids know they’re important, but that the parents are reminded, “Wait a minute, this is why we’re doing it.”

Allison Tyler Jones: And just especially now, coming out of the last couple of years, I think, in particular, the value of our businesses. I think that’s why so many portrait photographers are doing so well right now is that people think, “Oh well, they’ve realized that they could lose a family member, so they want to make sure and document them.” Absolutely, that’s part of it. But another part of it is just wanting to feel connected, wanting to feel normal again, feeling like maybe we’ve missed time. I feel like I’ve missed a year or two somewhere in there. I feel like we’re just getting back to normal. There’s all the trite comparisons, right? What you focus on when you think of all the terms of photography. Light and focus and all that, but it really is true that if we focus on the good, we absolutely will find it. And not only will we find it, but we will help our clients find it in each other.

Cindy Crofford: Right.

Allison Tyler Jones: And we’ll make the experience so much more valuable to them. That’s such a valuable thing.

Cindy Crofford: Maybe they can see good.

Allison Tyler Jones: For sure.

Cindy Crofford: And this one family, he said, “I hope this doesn’t happen, but if it does, well, we’ll work through it,” so in there, he said he wanted a picture of the two of them and-

Allison Tyler Jones: The mother and the father?

Cindy Crofford: The mother and the father. The first one, I’ll send it to you. They’re sitting there. I said, “Throw your arms around her,” and he threw his arms around her, and she’s leaning in more than you would think.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: And so when I showed him the view and order, he said, “Oh, I have to have that picture. I love my arms around her.” And I said, “Do you know how much I’d love to have my ex-husband’s arms around me?” I can say those things. I mean, that comes out of pain for me, so you can, let them see it in another light, I guess.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: Is that making sense?

Allison Tyler Jones: Well, it’s making sense because what you’re saying is you’re also sharing yourself. You’re willing to open yourself up to them and be, I mean the word is overused lately, but vulnerable to show yourself in real ways. And I do that a lot, not by design, but just because that’s who I am. I mean, you stand in the line with me at a local convenient mart. By the time we’re up to the counter, we’re going to be best friends because I’m going to overshare and tell you too many things about me. Maybe that’s why we get along so well.

Cindy Crofford: We’re going to dinner. And then-

Allison Tyler Jones: I’m just going to tell you my whole, entire life story. Yeah. But I am a connector in that I like to find the common ground. I don’t necessarily always look for the good in people as much as you do. That is a developed thing for me, but I do feel like we are all so much more alike than we are different. I didn’t really know that until I was a younger mom. My second child had been diagnosed with autism and there was this woman in this mom’s group that kept trying to get me to come to the mom’s group. “All of us have autistic kids. It’s a mom’s group,” and I just kept thinking, “Is this going to be like you’re sitting around in a church basement of chairs and like, ‘Hi, my name is Allison and I have an autistic child.'” I’m just like, “I’m not doing that. This is weird.”

Cindy Crofford: Yeah.

Allison Tyler Jones: Plus, they were a different age than me. They were just different than me, in my mind. Okay, so they weren’t in my church group, or they weren’t in my neighborhood or whatever. Finally, it was going to get to the point where it was going to be rude for me not to go. So I went, and we laughed our heads off because we talked about like all the dumb, weird things that our kids did that you can’t really talk about with moms who have typical kids, because then it looks like you’re making fun of your poor child that has autism. But we are dying laughing because they’re just nuts, but in the funniest way, and it was so healing.

Allison Tyler Jones: I realized, “Okay, these women are different age than me. They are in different stages in life, but we actually all really want the same things,” and that was a huge lesson to me. Now at my age, I think, “Well of course, you dim bulb. Of course that’s true.” But for anybody that’s listening to this that may not know that, sometimes you think, “Oh, that client is such a pain,” I think if we look for the good and we look for the common, we can really get on the same page. And it not only helps us be better humans and better business people, but it really helps your photography, the actual result, be better.

Cindy Crofford: Right.

Allison Tyler Jones: You know, I think we all could say that we would like more, really great, qualified leads, but what happens when we get contacted by a potential new client? We sometimes have that pit in our stomach of, “Oh, it’s not a good time right now. I don’t want to call them. What if they ask me hard questions? Oh, I don’t really know that I have the words to say,” and we put it off until we call and they’ve already booked somebody else, or maybe we don’t ever call, or we’re just letting things fall through the cracks. So if you ever find yourself in this type of situation and you feel like, “I just don’t know the words to say,” or, “I don’t know how to talk to these people,” or, “Am I doing it wrong?” I have a solution for all three of those things. If you go to, we have three, different, free resources for you.

Allison Tyler Jones: One is our ultimate client consultation guide that is going to help you, step-by-step, walk that prospective client through your process, how it is that you work. It has all the little speed bumps, so to speak, along the way to help you remember to say all the things that you need to say. Next is our cheat sheet of frequently asked, difficult questions that has an exhaustive list of all the hard questions that clients come up with that will help you get started on answering those confidently, so that you don’t have that feeling in the pit of your stomach anymore, and you’re going to pick up that phone immediately. And lastly is our sales sabotage evaluation tool, and that is going to help you to figure out where you are screwing it up because we all do at one time or another.

Allison Tyler Jones: So go to and wherever you’re at in your business, if you’re needing to rework your message, if you’re needing to rework your answers, if you’re needing to rework your sales process, they are all right there on that very first page. They are free. They are resources to help you in your business. Go do it. Download them now, and start doing better. Start booking those clients confidently and start selling them your gorgeous, beautiful work, because they need it.

Cindy Crofford: And I think what you said about being a connector, I think that is a skill that I had, but it also grew as I learned to connect this person and refer this person and say, “I love her.” Connecting is so easy now. Sometimes I think, “Why wouldn’t somebody be doing that?”

Allison Tyler Jones: Sure.

Cindy Crofford: And along that line, what I think I mentioned to you too, when people come in and they act in a way that’s not like, “Whoa, what’s going on?” we’ve learned to put what’s happening, and I’ve learned to do this in lots of situations, not just business. Put that behavior in the suspend pile, and we kind of have an imaginary suspend pile.

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay.

Cindy Crofford: And when we just don’t have enough information to decide, “Oh, well she’s just rude,” or, “I don’t want to photograph her,” or whatever, put it over in the suspend pile. Get more information and invariably, if you will give it some time, you will either see them in another light, or … One lady came in who was just really being difficult, and she came in the next week and said, “I want to apologize to you.” Said, “I found out that day my husband had cancer, and I took it all out on you.” If you can just, as you’ve said so many times, sit back-

Allison Tyler Jones: Breathe.

Cindy Crofford: Just listen for a minute. Tell me more.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: And then you find out a lot more.

Allison Tyler Jones: I love that concept. So what you’re saying is, if I’m understanding it, when something that could be construed as negative, a client is driving you crazy or something, you put it in the suspend pile mentally. It’s just a mental construct of “I’m just not going to make a judgment on that right now. Let’s just set that over there and then we’ll see if we have more information.” Okay, so I definitely needed that this week. I needed my own suspend pile because we had something come up that I just thought, “Oh my gosh.” I can’t give you details, but anyway, there was just a situation where I just thought I was going to lose my mind and I was making up all these stories in my mind about what this client meant by it, what was in her mind. And none of that was true, but-

Cindy Crofford: Exactly.

Allison Tyler Jones: I just got, somebody was just saying, got twisted around the axle, and I just went off into a spiral that was not even necessary.

Cindy Crofford: And I think what you said, we make up stories. Probably most of the stories we make up, well, they’re not going to be true. It’s not going to be one of those, but-

Allison Tyler Jones: No.

Cindy Crofford: We’re so convinced that they’re trying to whatever.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah, and you notice that the stories usually that we are making up are never positive. It’s never, “She’s probably just having a bad day or whatever.” It’s always like, “She hates me. She’s out to get me.” I mean my mom, God rest her soul, she was a force of nature and she was a powerhouse and a pro-woman feminist before feminists were even a thing. But she also, along with that, she was a worrier. Big time, big time worrier. When I went through my divorce, I ended up going to her shrink, and I said a couple things to him and he just started to laugh. This is such a HIPAA violation, but he’s dead so it doesn’t even matter. He goes, “Oh my gosh, I know where that thought came from,” and I said, “Well, what do you mean?” And he’s like, “If 10% of the things your mom worried about ever actually happened, she would’ve had the worst life of anybody that I know. She would’ve been worse than Joe.”

Cindy Crofford: We are connected then. Probably sisters, because Mother worried more. I think my daddy once said, ‘Your mother worries enough for 10 people.”

Allison Tyler Jones: For everybody. Yep.

Cindy Crofford: I mean, I couldn’t do all that worrying. I just went up to it and-

Allison Tyler Jones: Well, she did it for you so you didn’t have to, and that’s what I-

Cindy Crofford: Be well rested for the funeral.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: I’m not going to worry.

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly. The girl that was my first studio manager, she had a ring that, carved into it, said, “Worry is not preparation.” I thought, “Ooh, that is so good,” because you can sit and stew about something and think about all the possible things that are going to happen. Usually they’re all negative, or you can just, “How about let’s just wait and see what happens. Let’s put it on the suspend pile.” 

Cindy Crofford: It really isn’t. Okay, let’s do one negative and one positive. Why do we default to negative?

Allison Tyler Jones: It’s a human nature, I think. I don’t know if psychologists would say it was because if we didn’t do that, then we’d step outside and be eaten by the sabertooth tiger or something. I don’t know. Or just mothers, that’s mothers too. You’re just worried about your kids. You worry about all the possible, negative things that can happen. Well, I love that. What else? Anything else? Any other wisdom that you would like to share with us today?

Cindy Crofford: Yeah. I will tell you the things that I remember, besides going out to learn how to be with people. Mother always told me to “Remember who you are, Cindy.” And actually, the day before she died, she gave me, almost, this list one more time. I don’t know how she rallied and told me, but she told me, I think, to remember who I was. I think that is very important, as women, to remember who we are aside from husbands, aside from children, even aside from my business. I’m going to have a real hard time remembering who I am not photographing, but-

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: I think it’s important for us to remember who we are as business owners. What do we want our business to be like? And one thing I heard, a quote I heard this week that I really liked, was, “Sometimes we have to discover who we are, and sometimes we have to rediscover who we are.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Mm-hmm.

Cindy Crofford: But another thing that she told me was, “Don’t let it go deep,” and I think that’s probably the second most important thing was that I don’t sit and let it fester. That kind of has to do with the suspend pile.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: I don’t take it in and I just don’t let it go deep.

Allison Tyler Jones: Don’t let it go to your core.

Cindy Crofford: Yeah.

Allison Tyler Jones: Well, and I think that goes along with knowing who you are, when you said remember who you are. Well, in order to remember who you are, you have to, at some point, have known what that was.

Cindy Crofford: Yeah.

Allison Tyler Jones: And so that’s going to be a lot of different things, depending on your family of origin, depending on how you were raised. Are you a child of God or do you have infinite worth? What was the practice that you were raised of who you actually are?

Cindy Crofford: Yeah.

Allison Tyler Jones: I mean, I feel that every human being has that infinite worth.

Cindy Crofford: I do too.

Allison Tyler Jones: It’s a lot easier for me to tell you about your worth than it is for me to remember my own. I think that sometimes that’s a struggle, is to remember like, “No. Okay. I am worthy. I am worth all these things,” because the world kind of beats you down.

Cindy Crofford: Or I think we feel like we have to even maybe play down. I think it’s important to learn to be able to say thank you and stop.

Allison Tyler Jones: Oh, yes.

Cindy Crofford: Not, “Oh, it just wasn’t that hard,” or, “Oh, I don’t know. It could have been.” I mean, just stop all that. Stop putting yourself down or explaining or making it less than. I used to tell my mother, I’d say, “Mom, you look so pretty today.” “Oh, my old, big feet,” And her last name was Broaddus.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: And Aunt Ruby made fun of her and called her broad ass when she ran across the street today.

Allison Tyler Jones: Oh my goodness.

Cindy Crofford: And Mother never got over it, and she had to-

Allison Tyler Jones: That dang Aunt Ruby!

Cindy Crofford: That dang Aunt Ruby! I’m going to talk to her when I get there.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: That wasn’t nice.

Allison Tyler Jones: Aunt Ruby has a lot to answer for.

Cindy Crofford: I think one of the biggest things I work on is to be … And in fact, I even jokingly called Mary Fisk Taylor out on it and said, “Don’t tell me you’re not good at this. You are.” I mean, we want to go, “Oh, but Photoshop’s hard,” or, “I don’t get this.” “You know what? You are the president of PP of A-“

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: “Don’t tell me what you can’t do.” I mean-

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Cindy Crofford: If you would’ve seen that. Seriously, I could not be president of something. I would not get it all done.

Allison Tyler Jones: Well, I know exactly what you’re talking about because we tend to “poo poo,” because we don’t want to be seen as being egotistical or whatever, but I think there is something there. I really noticed it in myself. I can’t even say that I have a solution or I’ve arrived at some thought process that has resolved it, but I realize I actually have a big problem receiving. I think as an oldest child, you’re a helper. You got that dialed in. “I’ll help. I’ll teach. I’ll be there. I’ll help, help, help.” That’s Mary to a T, but to receive is a different thing. That’s hard to receive a compliment, to receive even good fortune, in a way, is kind of like you just expect that maybe bad things are going to happen and it’s a surprise when they don’t, or if some good fortune comes along, you kind of are looking around like, “Okay, when’s the other shoe going to drop? This can’t possibly be happening in my world.”

Cindy Crofford: That’s so funny because last year I doubled my income, my growth. And that’s another thing, I never could figure out the difference between gross and net, so I had to remember that it’s gross, that all you get is net.

Allison Tyler Jones: I love it.

Cindy Crofford: So there’s your accounting tip for the day.

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. That’s the Cindy Crofford accounting tip. Okay.

Cindy Crofford: It is. Ann Monteith has used it several times and her lectures and I think maybe, I’m not sure this is what I was saying, but I am learning to accept those things that I’m … here’s what I’ve learned to say. “That is a wonderful area of opportunity for me.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Rather than, “I suck at that.”

Cindy Crofford: I’m not good at that yet.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: That’s one of my areas of opportunity, right? Okay, see this right here? People can’t see us, can they? When they listen?

Allison Tyler Jones: No, no, no. We’re on audio only.

Cindy Crofford: Well, this is when you talk-

Allison Tyler Jones: It’s a paperweight. You’re holding up a paperweight.

Cindy Crofford: A paperweight. And Gary, my ex-husband, who I really still think is pretty fabulous, he had it made for me when I opened the studio. It said, “When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need, words that will help others become stronger,” and it’s Ephesians 4:29, and I have-

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay, read it one more time.

Cindy Crofford: “When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need, words that will help others become strong.” Here’s the other thing on my desk, “Act old later.” I think that if we can lift others up, just get in the habit of finding one little something, maybe just something you like about them.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: And it’s funny. If you do that, it kind of sparks a whole nother thing of “You find there’s more to like than you were first seeing.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. It’s a virtuous cycle. A virtuous cycle that when you go in the hole and you go negative. We’re always just going to find what we’re looking for. We’ve heard it a million times. When you’re more negative, you start picking. You see more things, and then you feel like crap about yourself, that you’re saying those things that makes you think bad about yourself and it just poisons everything, whereas the opposite is true. You can think, “Okay, I got to think of one thing.” Anybody that has a 14 to 16-year-old knows what I’m talking about. You can find something nice about that kid. I mean, thank goodness we are hardwired, usually, to kind of love our kids, but you look for that positive thing and then if you respond to that, then that person responds to you positively, and it just builds that virtuous cycle.

Allison Tyler Jones: I’ve just had experience after experience with clients, people that I barely knew, that have just been little golden treasures in my life, that transcend the transaction of money or anything like that, being in business. I really feel that my relationship with my clients, especially their children, it’s like a compensatory blessing in so many ways in my life because I didn’t have the typical mother journey. My children, I was definitely much more of a caretaker role for them, and then I married Ivan with his five, supposedly normal, kids. That has been the best thing I ever did, but they were older. I didn’t get them from that little tiny, and so when I have a child that reacts to me and comes and shows me something or sits in my lap, or kisses me on the cheek or gives me a hug, that fills something that I’ve never had that as a mom. It’s just a treasure.

Cindy Crofford: It’s a treasure. When I taught school, that was before I had kids, the first year. I found them on Facebook now. They’re in their 50s now.

Allison Tyler Jones: So cute.

Cindy Crofford: And the ones I’ve found said, “You were my favorite teacher,” and I promise you it wasn’t because I was the best teacher.

Allison Tyler Jones: It’s because you loved them.

Cindy Crofford: It’s because I loved them.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: They’d be at different tables and I just made an effort to catch them doing something right and put marks on the chalkboard of who’s doing the most right things. It just feeds on itself. And I know what I was going to tell you was that last year, that with the gross doubled-

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: And the net double too. You know what my first thought was in January?

Allison Tyler Jones: What?

Cindy Crofford: “Oh, I don’t know if I can do it again,” and I thought, “No, I’m not going to put that out there.” I am going to put out, and it has been slow. I had a slower, first quarter. It didn’t feel as good as it should.

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: And I just thought, “You know what? I know who has me. I know-“

Allison Tyler Jones: All things are working together for your good.

Cindy Crofford: Yes! I mean, it led back to “Let your words be positive” or “Be helpful.” That can also apply to me.

Allison Tyler Jones: To yourself. Absolutely! It has to apply there first before it can apply anywhere else. I totally believe that. I love it. So what do you attribute your double in income last year? What do you feel like were contributors?

Cindy Crofford: Allison Tyler Jones. I truly-

Allison Tyler Jones: Oh brother!

Cindy Crofford: No I-

Allison Tyler Jones: I’m going to receive it! Thank you.

Cindy Crofford: I’m telling you, I think some of the words … I had such a busy year. I didn’t get all the things done to get an A in the course. I did enough, and a lot of that already had established business. I’ve asked people, “May I ask how you got my name? Oh, your reputation.”

Allison Tyler Jones: I love that.

Cindy Crofford: How lucky I am that I’m where I am. That’s one of the benefits, but I learned to, I think, speak. I’ve always thought sales were pretty easy, but I got even more confident in what I was saying. I also was confident in not panicking if someone was not my client. Who was my niche? Who am I serving?

Allison Tyler Jones: Being okay, letting people go and really focusing on the ones that were best fit.

Cindy Crofford: And another thing I think that’s really important too is learning to be comfortable that the phone’s not going to ring quite as much.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yep.

Cindy Crofford: Or those people that are talking about how they’re booked until the rest of the year, and you’re going, “Really?”

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: But my sales were way higher, so why would I want to do … I’ve always said, from day one, I wanted people to come to me because I was good, not because I was cheap.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yep.

Cindy Crofford: That was-

Allison Tyler Jones: Preach it sister.

Cindy Crofford: I wasn’t going to let someone take the business away from me. I had found what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and I wasn’t going to let somebody not let me pay my bills, so I had to go do some other business.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. Right, but in order to do that, you have to be priced appropriately and all of that. For those that are listening to this and are like, “What is she talking about?” The course that she’s talking about, The Art of Selling Art course that Cindy was a founding member of, that was awesome to have you in that course. But yeah, I think there’s so many things you already had. Like you said, you had the base, but it’s just those fine nuances of getting a little bit more confident and it is hard. I think it is hard when you read all the business books, you live in America, and it’s always more, more, more, more, more. But sometimes, we don’t want more. We want better. We want less clients, better clients, and to be able to have some time to actually live, breathe.

Cindy Crofford: Yeah.

Allison Tyler Jones: Be a mom, be a grandma, be whatever.

Cindy Crofford: And to serve, truly, like you said. Some of the things you said were just short sentences or short phrases of, “I found that doesn’t serve my clients like I’d like to,” and they’re kind of like, “Hmm.” I thought about when they asked for digital files, maybe what they know. And I will tell you, it goes back to putting that money in that IRA. I didn’t want to make that. I was scared to make that decision, but I had to because there was the debt of tax day.

Allison Tyler Jones: Sure.

Cindy Crofford: I know that I am not a good decision maker unless I’m getting better and I’m learning to make a decision, and I bet other people know that about themselves. Well, it’d be a lot easier if I just had the digital files because then I wouldn’t embarrass myself by not being able to make a decision.

Allison Tyler Jones: The digital side. Exactly.

Cindy Crofford: Maybe I know my husband and I are going to have a fight. We’re going to disagree. There are things they know that they may not be communicating to you.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yep.

Cindy Crofford: So what I’ve learned to say to them is, especially if they’re coming to the view and order, “Be sure you bring a decision maker,” and then, “Well, can we just go home and think about it? Well, what you don’t need is more time. What you need is someone to help guide you through this.

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly.

Cindy Crofford: Right now is the best time. Us, we’re going to make a good decision because we’re doing it and we’re collaborating together.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Cindy Crofford: You don’t need more time.

Allison Tyler Jones: No.

Cindy Crofford: You need a guide.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yep. Exactly. I love that, and I think that all of this, the wisdom that you’ve shared, everything, I think to bring it back around, is it’s providing that experience. It’s seeing people for the best of who they really are, and then handling them in a way … I think so much of the sales training and everything out there feels like trickery in some ways, like, “Let’s overcome those objections. Let’s just keep them in the room,” or maybe we could just really show them the value that we bring, which is, like you say, “The best decision you’re going to make is when we’re sitting here right in front of the screen together.”

Cindy Crofford: Yes.

Allison Tyler Jones: “And I’m going to show you exactly how it needs to be, and the size and everything, so that we’re just going to avoid the mistakes,” and then you’re going to walk out of here done.

Cindy Crofford: Yeah.

Allison Tyler Jones: The decision has been made and you don’t have to think about it until I’m showing up at your house to hang it on the wall. Whereas, otherwise, it’s a gallery, and then you’re twisting in the wind trying to decide, and then you can feel me over here waiting on you, and then I’m nagging you. It’s not good for anybody.

Cindy Crofford: Or they go home and have a fight because they’re looking at them. They can now have the fight that they wouldn’t have in front of you.

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly.

Cindy Crofford: Kathy came up with a really good description today, and she was talking about a portrait. Instead of saying … how did you say it, Kathy? It was a great investment. It has lifetime value.

Allison Tyler Jones: Sure.

Cindy Crofford: And I thought, “A portrait on the wall, the value will last a lifetime.”

Allison Tyler Jones: And like Tim Walden says, its value is the lowest right now. It only is going to appreciate over time, so I love that. Well I am so glad that you were raised by Beryldine, and I’m so grateful that I have received her, of her bountiest wisdom. I just love you, and I think so highly of you, and I’m so grateful to have you in my life and in our group. Thank you so much for taking the time to be here today.

Cindy Crofford: I think highly of you, and I want to end my wisdom by … Dominique Sachse, she’s a local news anchor, but she’s really a very admirable woman. She just retired. They’ve flown her to be on the Today Show. She’s in Houston, but she’s got-

Allison Tyler Jones: Kind of a big deal.

Cindy Crofford: A big deal. And she said the other day, “Making bold moves has led to great blessings.” So we are going to make bold moves and we’re going to do them prepared, and we’re going to kick a little ass.

Allison Tyler Jones: I know. I love it. And looking for the best in ourselves and others, where we will find what we’re looking for.

Cindy Crofford: Yeah. We really do, and we can heal some pain in the world.

Allison Tyler Jones: I love that.

Cindy Crofford: I love you!

Allison Tyler Jones: You’re the best! I love you, too! You’re the best! I will see you very soon, and thank you so much for spending time. Tell our listeners where they can find you on Instagram. And what’s your website?

Cindy Crofford: Cindy_Crofford_Photography, but Crofford is spelled differently. C-R-O-F-F-O-R-D. So Cindy_Crofford, C-R-O-F-F-O-R-D, Photography, and

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. We’ll link it all in the show notes so that they can find you. Thank you so much.

Cindy Crofford: You’re adorable.

Allison Tyler Jones: You are the best.

Cindy Crofford: See you later.

Allison Tyler Jones: See you soon! Okay!

Cindy Crofford: Bye!

Allison Tyler Jones: Have I told you lately how much I appreciate you being here? I know that you have so many demands on your time, and so many demands on your attention. You could be watching Netflix. You could be listening to a true crime podcast, but you’ve spent time here at The ReWork learning to make your portrait business better, and that really means a lot to me. If there’s somebody that you feel like could benefit from this episode, that you could help them and help us spread the word in helping other portrait photographers build better businesses, please go to where you’re listening to this episode and hit that share button and share it with them.

Allison Tyler Jones: And if you have time and can give us a review, you don’t even understand how much that means to a little tiny podcast like ours, to see those reviews and see how we’re helping. And if you have another minute and can send me a DM and let us know what you would like to hear in the future, what you really enjoyed hearing about, maybe things that weren’t that great, how we can do better. We always want to do better, and we always want to support the portrait photography industry in helping you build the best businesses ever. Thanks again so much for being here.

Recorded: You can find more great resources from Allison at, and on Instagram @do.the.rework.

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