If I Was Starting Out Now

Guest: Mary Fisk-Taylor

Chair of Professional Photographers of America
Richmond, Virginia

DATE: November 03, 2022

The longer you’re in a space, it becomes easier to look back and reflect on decisions. As a photographer in the business for 17 years, I’ve learned so much through trial and error. But if I were starting out now, knowing everything I currently know, what would I do differently? 

This is the question I asked today’s amazing guest, Mary Fisk-Taylor, who has been a photographer in the industry for 28 years. Mary is the former President of Professional Photographers of America and co-owner of Hayes and Fisk Photography where she specializes in incredible high end weddings and commissioned portrait paintings.

Mary is just a wealth of information, but we wanted to kick around the idea of starting a business now. What would she do differently? What would she do the same? It’s no secret that the industry has changed significantly over the years and continues to change as advances in technology move at a faster rate. But something that hasn’t changed is how to get to a gold standard brand with a lot of work and trial and error.

In this episode, you’ll learn how to:

  • Find and narrow your niche quickly.
  • Not feel guilty about self promotion.
  • Stay authentic to your beliefs and values.

Here’s a glance at this episode:

  • [02:59] – Welcome to the show, Mary!
  • [03:34] – After spending years on the board and a year as the president of PPA, Mary shares her thoughts on the current state of the industry.
  • [04:56] – Social media and internet marketing make things seem so easy, but that’s not enough.
  • [06:04] – Mary explains that if she were starting now, she would focus on commissions.
  • [08:06] – It is important to find your niche quickly.
  • [09:27] – Mary shares the tiers of her ideal clients.
  • [10:32] – It’s not about the money clients have, it’s about their values.
  • [11:43] – Commonly, Mary hears “that’s easy for you to say.”
  • [13:04] – Mary finds clients that are the right fit at events that make sense for her niche, not on social media.
  • [13:47] – Allison and Mary both read the blog by Seth Godin.
  • [15:14] – Being in the business for a long time is not enough to maintain it.
  • [16:51] – Don’t feel guilty about self promotion.
  • [17:42] – Mindset is important but it is challenging.
  • [18:50] – The state of the industry is changing constantly with technological advances. It’s as amazing as you want it to be.
  • [19:46] – A lot of times, we discount our own experiences if everyone else is doing something that doesn’t work for you.
  • [21:27] – Mary describes the typical client experience and what the heirloom map is.
  • [23:39] – What happens when the price quote is too much? 
  • [25:26] – Don’t try to upsell. Take things off the quote if the client isn’t sure.
  • [26:37] – In other businesses, they don’t offer discounts or deals to close a sale.
  • [27:48] – Sometimes we’re better together. But other times, the people we’re surrounded by are not supportive.
  • [30:06] – It’s okay to have a “feel sorry for yourself” day, but don’t complain to others to drag them down. 
  • [31:51] – The language you use to describe what you do impacts someone’s impression.
  • [33:19] – Your style needs to be recognizable as your own.
  • [35:13] – Use the phrase, “This is what I would do.”
  • [38:24] – When you’re years into something, it is easier to look back.
  • [40:06] – You don’t have to do everything and chase every trend.
  • [42:10] – Mary shares an example of a time she said no to something she knew wasn’t for her. It’s okay to refer to someone else.
  • [43:42] – A lot doesn’t make it better.
  • [45:29] – Kids only grow and get cuter over the years.
  • [46:59] – If it isn’t authentic to who you are and you don’t believe in it, it really is going to be a hard journey.
  • [48:50] – You can enjoy and admire what other people are doing, but stay true to what your business is.

Links and Resources:
Download a Transcript
Seth’s Blog – “I’m not that smart”
ReWork with Kimberly Wylie – Episode #031 Stepping Off the Ledge

Mary Fisk-Taylor
Website | Instagram

Do The ReWork
Website | Instagram

Allison Tyler Jones
Website | Instagram | LinkedIn