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. Today’s episode is a conversation with a little ray of sunshine. All of you who know Vicki Taufer know that she is just a sunny, happy personality. But man, this girl has been busy. She is literally during this conversation; you’re going to hear a couple of drills in the background because she is in the middle of moving into a brand-new studio in her downtown hometown in Illinois.

Allison Tyler Jones: And she’s talking about how she’s going to build out her different shooting areas, where they’ve been, where she and Jed have been in the past from owning a bowling alley that they just recently sold, that was their studio and their home at one point, and just talking about life after many years in this industry, in this business, how it has expanded and contracted, and where she really feels like she has finally hit her sweet spot. And I know that so many of you are going to love this conversation because you are in the same situation of either upsizing, downsizing, or changing your business. You’re going to get great inspiration from this conversation. Let’s do it.

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay, so I am so happy to have my friend Vicki Taufer here in the podcast studio with me, and so many changes, so many new things that are happening in your world. Vicki, you’re a favorite. You’re so beloved by so many in this industry who have followed yours and Jed’s career through the years and your studio and your family. And so thank you for being here, because I know it’s a busy time. You’re moving into your new studio. You might hear a drill in the background as we’re recording this as they’re hanging your TV. Anyway, welcome and thank you for being here.

Vicki Taufer: Well, I was super excited you asked me, so yeah, looking forward to it.

Allison Tyler Jones: Thank you. Okay, so for anybody that is living under a rock in this industry and doesn’t know who you are, kind of give us a little quick bio of you and who you are and what you do.

Vicki Taufer: Sure, yeah. So this is actually the start of my 25th year doing photography, so that’s pretty exciting, and especially with the new move, new studio. But I started 25 years ago, newly married, basement of my first home. My husband worked for his father’s business, not in the photography industry. And then fast-forward a few years, started the business and my husband ended up joining the business, leaving the company he was working for with his father. And for many years, we ran the business together, grew the business into moving into a commercial space, up to nine employees at one point.

Allison Tyler Jones: A bowling alley, a former bowling alley space.

Vicki Taufer: A former bowling alley that we’ve renovated. Very large business with multiple shooters, salespeople, and in that process kind of learned that’s not what I love about for me running a… I don’t love being this large studio that has to manage people. And then in the mix of that, family’s always been important, but we were married many years without kids, and so my baby really was my business. It was this building I renovated. I love design. I love decorating. All my energy, all my eggs went into that basket.

Vicki Taufer: 13 years ago, we adopted our daughter from Nepal, and it was a situation that I ended up living out of country for six months that I didn’t know I was going to have to do during our busiest season. And it was the biggest blessing ever because of the obvious, we started our family and had our daughter, but it also was a time that opened my eyes to other ways I could run my business, that there was a way to have a family and have a business, and I didn’t need it to be full-time.

Vicki Taufer: And so we went through a period the last 13 years on and off of being busier, being slower, being part-time, moving places in our building, renting out places in our building, moving to Minnesota for five years, because my husband also during that time was hired on by White House Custom Colour Minnesota and he still works there remotely. But for five years we lived in Minnesota, so I ran a studio remotely. I started a business in Minnesota, not with a studio, but ran a small photography business in Minnesota, ran my business in Illinois still that had the studio space.

Vicki Taufer: And then five, six years ago, we moved back to Illinois and then moved into our studio. So I know a lot of people have a studio in their home. We made a home in our studio for about…

Allison Tyler Jones: Yes. Okay, so just pause for a minute, literally moved into the studio, like lived there as your home. Okay, yep, just want to highlight.

Vicki Taufer: Yep, totally. Yep, old bowling alley. So actually really amazing space in just the middle of our middle town and lived there for about five years. And then just this past year, moved into a house, sold our building, and that opened up amazing opportunities. The old pizza place went out of business down the street, a better location, beautiful windows, and we’ve been in the process of renovating all year the pizza place into our new studio, which is smaller. But I also, after doing this 25 years, feel like I know a little more what I want.

Allison Tyler Jones: It’s the perfect size.

Vicki Taufer: It is the perfect size. So the challenge being in two weeks, I need to have everything out of my old studio, and I have 25 years worth of stuff in there. So we’re still in the process of pitching, selling, moving while we’re getting the space ready. As we’re in Illinois, this past weekend was a negative 35 windchill temps. That’s really fun. So that brings you to date.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yes. Thank you for that. Well, and the thing that I love is that I’m sitting here looking at you on Zoom, which our listeners won’t see, but the natural light is amazing on your face. It looks so good.

Vicki Taufer: It’s a beautiful space. We are super, super excited. And my other space actually did have beautiful window light too. I’ve found over the years that any of my moves, like moving out of the studio into Minnesota, challenged me and I had to find ways to run my business on location. And it was a good thing. It pushed my artistic limits a little bit. I had to figure things out. And so yes, this space is gorgeous. It’s very different than my old studio, so I’m excited to see how my work evolves with that.

Vicki Taufer: Obviously, it’ll still be my work, it’ll still be recognizable as my work, but it’s going to be different, which it always has. I actually feel like I’m on this weird cycle of five years, that every five years… So now I’m starting year 25, but that’s just how it’s been. Every five years, it’s been this changeover of how I do things, what I love to shoot, how I shoot, who inspires me, what things I want to try, what location I’m in. I’m excited. A lot of unknowns, but very excited. And we have two kids now, 10 and 14, that we also homeschool.

Vicki Taufer: So kind of have lots of things going on all the time, but they’re a little bit older and more independent. And so I’m finding that I do have different and more time to work on the business, so I’m really looking forward to… I feel like I’ve been in this pause scenario for about the last 11, 12 years, still doing my business, maintaining my business. It’s been profitable. It’s been good. It’s been part-time, still will be part-time, but really excited about where we’re going to take it. Family’s first, so I feel like I’ve always tailored my business to work with whatever situation our family’s been in.

Allison Tyler Jones: Well, don’t you just love that about this industry though, that you can be part-time and still support your family?

Vicki Taufer: 100%. 100%. And obviously it’s cool because my husband, although he doesn’t work in the business, he still works in the industry. And of course, he was just up here last night hanging curtains with me, and he still works in the business and my kids get to see it and be a part of it. And both of them are very artistic. Not that they necessarily will do anything with this, but there is always that possibility, especially I feel like my daughter, she’s going to be 15, and she’s super artistic and plays around with video, or maybe it’s social media, maybe it’s creating things for the studio. I don’t know. There’s all these fun possibilities.

Allison Tyler Jones: So going from a huge… Did you say 9,000 square feet was the…

Vicki Taufer: 7,000 square feet that we use…

Allison Tyler Jones: 7,000 square feet for the bowling alley to basically working on location, because when you’re in Minnesota, you didn’t have a studio, so you worked on location. And then now, so you had the big huge studio, no studio, now you have basically a place that you were able to pick and make the best of both worlds. What are some of the decisions that you made in this new studio? What’s your square footage and what are some of the creative decisions you’ve made there?

Vicki Taufer: Yeah, it’s about 1,200 square feet. The building is almost 100 years old. They’ve been restoring it. It didn’t look beautiful when I actually decided to move here, but I knew the potential and they’ve done a great job. And so that’s the other difference. I went from owning a building to now I’m just leasing, which is a better fit for our family right now too. So that was a big deal, big change. My old space was very chopped up, lots of rooms, very long space. It was a bowling alley, so you had this long building, whereas this space, number one, my other space was hidden.

Vicki Taufer: People wouldn’t see the space, and that’s good and bad because I do everything by appointment. I did a window light, but people wouldn’t necessarily ever go buy it. Well, now I’m on the main corner of our Main Street with big windows, which is gorgeous for people to see in and see the space. But if I’m photographing a session, do I want people staring in? What does that look like? So I’ve had to get creative with some of the drapery curtains, things that I’m going to be doing knowing that I can offer privacy, but still have window light if I want.

Vicki Taufer: But I do shoot a lot with studio lights too, so it’s not like I’m only shooting with window lights, so I need the ability to close off the windows and to be able to shoot with my studio lights. I have a ton, a big investment in gorgeous hand painted backgrounds. We’re in the transition of moving over. My favorite ones, I’m probably not going to hang all of them. It’s a very large open space, which I wanted to keep. So that’s been interesting.

Allison Tyler Jones: Which is it can work for and against you, right? It’s great because it gives you a lot of flexibility, but when you don’t have any walls, you have to figure it out. You can have wasted space in the middle.

Vicki Taufer: Yes. I would say one of the biggest challenges was as they restored the building, they needed answers yesterday of where to put outlets, where to put studs to hang things. And I’m like, I have no idea until I’m in the space. So there’s a few places and things we… I thought I was going to put a light or something that now is becoming storage space, and storage is a challenge. Where do I store things? I want the space to look beautiful from Main Street.

Vicki Taufer: We have this gorgeous eight foot hand-carved ceiling tile we bought in Asia 15 plus years ago that we actually put up as a room divider. And so I can move all the things I don’t want people to see behind it. But for Main Street, it’s a gorgeous piece. And then even right now they’re hanging the TV, we positioned it. That’s where I’m going to do sales in the same room. It’s one big room that I shoot, that I do everything, but we have it positioned in a way that it’s facing Main Street so that it’ll constantly have imagery on it.

Vicki Taufer: So at night, people will see that besides the work that we have on the walls. And there’s a gorgeous one hole wall in this building. It’s beautiful, like a 100-year-old brick that is gorgeous, but that creates some unique challenges also of how I’m hanging my images, what I’m hanging.

Allison Tyler Jones: And the bricks turning to dust when you try to hang things.

Vicki Taufer: Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah, every time I clean the studio, we do something that it’s a big mess again. I mean, it’s super simple my workspace. So I loved working at home more, and so in our house that we moved into this year, I have an actual home office, which I never really had before. So I try to do more of my work there, which just works better for our family. I still, of course, have a workstation here that I can just plug my laptop into a monitor, but it’s not huge. It’s not like this big huge office.

Vicki Taufer: The office doubles as the kitchen, and then we have one little bathroom, changing room, and then there’s just an old basement that I wouldn’t take clients down to, but it’s a clean, dry basement that I can definitely store stuff, props I’m not ready to get rid of. Because that was probably my other big thing, I have a bit of a couch collecting problem.

Allison Tyler Jones: Oh, yeah, you do.

Vicki Taufer: I do. It’s been hard, but I’ve had to sell and get rid of some things. I don’t want this new space to be cluttered, and so everything has to have a dual purpose. I have had to be so intentional about, sure, I would love my salesroom to have this beautiful couch and all these neutral colors, but that doesn’t really work for me because every couch and chair in that room I use for a prop, and so it has to be able to move.

Vicki Taufer: I have sliders, it’s all wood floors, so I have to be able to move it. I want variety. I do shoot a lot with different antiques and textures and colors. That’s part of just the style of what I do. So I’ve had to say no to some things I’ve wanted and then get creative like, how do I make this not look too eclectic? I have an eclectic style, but I want it to be cohesive and look nice.

Allison Tyler Jones: It’s a fine line between eclectic and junkie.

Vicki Taufer: Yes. I mean, talk to me in a couple of weeks after we have to be out of our old studio and to see where I’m at, if I’ve broken down and gotten a storage unit, I refuse to.

Allison Tyler Jones: Girl, listen, I know. We took eight semis to the dump when we cleared out our basement at the old studio, so I feel your pain, but it’s going to be so good once you’re there and forcing yourself to just curate it to your very favorites. I think it’s a discipline that needs to happen, but it’s hard to do for sure.

Vicki Taufer: For sure, yeah. But I’m excited about it. I mean, honestly, there are days I’m overwhelmed, but I would say overall it is just this feeling of excitement. Right now it’s my slower time, which worked out well. I feel like I’m really taking this time to… I have so many ideas of how I want to have this pre-grand opening and reach out to my clients. I have so many ideas, so many just notes I’ve been taking.

Vicki Taufer: And whether that’s I start doing that in March or end of February, I don’t know. I don’t know, but I’ve already been meeting with clients in this new space. It’s like, hey, they know I’m moving, it’s half done, and they love seeing what I’m doing. I don’t post a ton on social media, but I have been posting some of our remodel work. Yeah, the remodel work, and so that’s been fun and clients are excited and sending me messages.

Allison Tyler Jones: We’ll link to your Instagram on the podcast. What is your Instagram handle?

Vicki Taufer: Yep, it’s just @vgalleryphoto is the business.

Allison Tyler Jones: V as in Victor or Vicki.

Vicki Taufer: Yep, and then @vtaufer. I post to both, but @vgalleryphoto would be the studio.

Allison Tyler Jones: @vgalleryphoto. Okay, awesome. And then @vtaufer, T-A-U-F-E-R. Love it.

Vicki Taufer: Yep.

Allison Tyler Jones: Well, it’s been fun to watch it happen and get a few little texts here and there to see what’s happening. What are you doing? Are you setting it up by shooting areas? Do you have display areas? Have you delineated it that way?

Vicki Taufer: I’m still working through some of that. I didn’t want to make too many permanent decisions until I was in the space because I’ve already changed my mind on some of the things I thought I was going to do. And so I have it that my main shooting area, whether it’s with my studio lights or the window, is going to be in the same area for the most part. And I know that based on my last camera room, my old space. I tried to have a lot of different shooting areas and I just found I kind of always shot in one spot. That’s where I was comfortable.

Allison Tyler Jones: You get a favorite place and you just want to stay there.

Vicki Taufer: So it was more just about picking and choosing the things that I knew I really wanted and liked, but I still have some ideas. I’m working on some ideas of some portable walls, which I’ve never really used much before, but I think would dual purpose here well to hide some of the things that I don’t want seen and potentially be a background.

Vicki Taufer: And honestly, my work has changed. I mean, everybody’s does I guess over time, but has evolved some too. I do probably more clean, modern type work, even though I still do my painted backgrounds and my colors and all those things that I think this space lends itself to that a little bit better.

Allison Tyler Jones: I want to do some movable walls too. I have a big wall that I had a local plaster, a guy that does Venetian plaster, and he did this big eight by 10 wall for me. It’s on foam, but it’s impossible to me. I mean, it’s not heavy, but it’s just unwieldy and I need to put it on wheels or whatever. Let me know how you’re doing that because I would love to…

Vicki Taufer: Yes. For some reason, my ideas always come to me middle of the night. I wake up early. So actually this morning, it was either last night or this morning, I think I came up with a solution I’m super excited about, that it’s going to be hinged on one side, so it’s permanently… Actually just the spot, it makes sense there permanently attached to the wall, and then the other side will actually have the wheels.

Vicki Taufer: Because I have the same problem you have, which is I don’t want it so big and bulky and heavy that I really don’t use it and I don’t move it. So I feel like the way it’s going to work, I think it’s going to be on the wall that I’m going to have painted white, and then I have this hinged wall that’ll be a lot easier to move that I can shoot it…

Allison Tyler Jones: That could just roll onto it.

Vicki Taufer: Well, what’s cool is because the way the space is set up, if it’s sticking out into the wall, it also creates a room divider for my salesroom if I wanted that for some reason.

Allison Tyler Jones: Oh, that’s cool.

Vicki Taufer: And it would be really beautiful flat lighting if it was sticking out from the wall. But then if I have a background on both sides and it folds back, it actually then would be really beautiful light coming in from the side. I haven’t even talked to Jed about it. He’ll be the one helping me build it, but that’s my plan right now because I do feel like in the past I have definitely created things and done things with the idea of moving it and it’s just not how it worked out for me.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. Well, and I’ve seen them on wheels, like with the triangular A-frame with the wheels, but I feel like that lifts it off the floor, and I like to shoot on the floor. So I was like, okay, well, what if we did L brackets on both sides and then felt pads so you could slide it. So I don’t know. I’m trying to get my brother who does all my installation to… I need you to jerry rig something for me and make this work.

Vicki Taufer: Yeah, for sure, for sure. Lots of time spent online and on Pinterest getting ideas, and I have so many things that I’ve gotten inspired that way too.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah, I think it’s good. I love the every five year idea that even if you aren’t forced to physically move, I think that’s a good timeframe to pull yourself up by your roots a little bit and look and go, “Do I still like what I’m doing? Do I still all this stuff?” Making myself get rid of some things that even clients liked. When we went to shoot this season, they were like, “Hey, we want those big tall nailhead chairs that you had,” I’m like, look, I shot with those for two years and now they’re gone. I literally donated them because I’m like, I don’t want to be known for the nailhead chairs. You know what I mean?

Vicki Taufer: Yeah. Well, no, I 100% agree with you, in that I will say that was part of our decision we had when we were deciding if we wanted to move. The easy decision would’ve been stay where I’m at. Everything’s there. It works. That was the easy decision, but my heart wasn’t in it as much and the excitement of what this move, the potential it could have. I mean, I look at it, honestly, it’s like, who knows? I know none of us know what the future holds. I’ve learned that over and over again in my life that I would never say, “This is it. This is the last move.”

Vicki Taufer: But I mean, I do look at it like this potentially could be where I finish my career. I hope I’m doing this for a long time, but I love this space and it’s such a great fit. The fact that it’s smaller, it’s a little more economical, right? It’s possible that this could be where we say… I feel like I’ve always got ideas that even if someday I love furniture, I love decor, I’ve had so many crazy ideas of maybe it becomes a place down the road where I do a little bit of that and I have furniture I’m selling.

Vicki Taufer: Clients are always asking me to help them decorate their homes and give them ideas. It goes hand in hand with what we do already, making their spaces look beautiful. That’s what I love. I love that in my house. We have a little A-frame cabin we’ve completely gutted and redid. My last studio, this studio all have such a different vibe, but the feedback from family, friends, clients is like, they can tell it’s me. It’s got my fingerprint on it and it feels very good and welcoming. My kids’ friends, the neighborhood kids, love to come to our house and hang out.

Vicki Taufer: That’s what I want. I want to create this space, and I love helping people create that when they’re home. So I think that’s where even that was a big shift in my business in the last five years of I do it all. I do have a couple employees that are contract employees now that have been with me since the beginning, and they don’t even live here. Everything’s done remote with them. So it’s a designer and my sister, who’s my retoucher. Otherwise, I’m doing the sessions. I’m doing the sales. I’m delivering images to the client’s home and I love it. That would be the shift in my business that I truly can say I love, and it’s equated to maybe I do less sessions, but they’re higher paying sessions.

Allison Tyler Jones: You have a higher margin.

Vicki Taufer: People are super appreciative too, because it’s not like before. It was definitely I shot, someone else sold. I mean, it was just like this well-oiled machine that was great, but my heart was not in that at all anymore.

Allison Tyler Jones: Because you’re such a connector, and I feel the same way. I love spending time with my clients. I love knowing what’s going on with their kids. I love having a mom share something personal with me when we’re looking at those images together. To me, that’s why I could never… I don’t know if I could ever give up the sales because I just love that time with them.

Vicki Taufer: 100%.

Allison Tyler Jones: So I think that what I love about your story is that you’ve tried so many different things all successfully. I mean, obviously there are things that haven’t gone well, just like all of us, but I mean, you have been able to support your family for 25 years from the sales of portrait photography in many different iterations, whether it’s been a big team, only you, in a studio, not in a studio, and now it seems to me like you’ve hit your sweet spot, in that I do need some help because I don’t want to do everything, because I want to be able to be with my kids, but I want to keep my fingers in the things that really mean a lot to me and I can do less sessions and still have the time freedom and be able to still support my family.

Vicki Taufer: Yeah, no, you hit the nail on the head. I mean, that is ultimately what I’ve tried to do and feel like I’m doing. I mean, to be transparent, I mean, absolutely I have had times of burnout, times of like, “Oh, okay, if we sell the building, should I just be done? Sure, I could be done.” And through those ups and downs, I think without questioning it, I wouldn’t have realized how much I was ready to not be done, if that makes sense. It was like I just was just going with the flow and just doing what I always did.

Vicki Taufer: But then when it was like I really had to make that decision, I realized I lit a little bit of a fire under me again of like, no, this is what I want to do. And really honestly, we had a period in the last five years, about a two-year period in limbo where we thought we were maybe moving back to Minnesota, and that was really hard because that’s actually what I think when I realized, man, if we did another move out of state, I don’t know if I could keep this up, like sell the building. I might just be done.

Vicki Taufer: And I was really sad about that. I was mourning that loss, and it also came into play of the income that comes from that. Oh, do I really want to… How long would it take to build something like I built here? Is that just the stage of life I’m at? And I just don’t think it is. I’m so thankful and grateful every day that things worked out how they did, that Jed can have this amazing job with this amazing company. He goes back and forth to Minnesota still, and I was able to continue to still service…

Vicki Taufer: I mean, a lot of my clients are clients I have had this whole time, and I was really mourning the loss of not being able to even be there for them. I’m super excited. I mean, a year ago, if you would’ve talked to me a year ago, number one, I probably would’ve not done this interview. I was a hot mess. I at that point had no idea if we were moving out of state, sold the building. The kids and I, we weren’t living in the same state of my husband. We had to move into our little A-frame cabin.

Vicki Taufer: We were kind of homeless and in limbo and where we were going to be, and I wasn’t even remotely… If you could have shown me where I was going to be in a year of like in the house that we were in, in this new studio, that was never even on the table. Because we owned our building, I really never thought about moving. It’s cool how that works.

Allison Tyler Jones: That’s what’s interesting to me is how easily we can get into ruts, how easily we can allow ourselves to think what is right now is what it will always be. Okay, this is what it is. But really how life can change on a dime, positive or negative, so quickly and allowing ourselves to have that hope or that positivity that, no, this actually could change. And really, for me at least, and maybe this is your experience too, but it’s allowing yourself to think, okay, don’t have any givens. Obviously one given is my family.

Allison Tyler Jones: I’m never not going to have that. My family, my faith, those are the big rocks in the jar. But everything else, the location of my business, where I’m living, all of those things could be moved around in a way that could be better for our family, that could be different the way I’m doing business. And I think you and Jed are both a really good example of allowing yourself to see that maybe there could be another way and just going with it, with the linchpin always being family first, faith, you just keep that at the center, and then everything else. It’s actually pretty exciting.

Vicki Taufer: Not that there aren’t hard times with that, but I couldn’t agree with you more. And I think that what you were saying, that lesson is when I really learned, and I mentioned this earlier, but 13 years ago when we adopted our daughter, I mean, I could not see past… My identity was my business. My identity was my business. I was off track, honestly. I maybe had a successful business, but that wasn’t my best happiest place. My identity was too wrapped up in my business.

Vicki Taufer: My business was totally wrapped up in my building. I couldn’t see past not having the building we were in. And if I had kept that stake in the ground there, I don’t even know. I don’t know. I don’t know where we’d be at. Because with what happened with my daughter, we were actually in a position that broke me. That broke me in a good way, a hard way, but to where I immediately… The second she was in my arms and it’s like, “Oh man.”

Allison Tyler Jones: This is all that matters.

Vicki Taufer: I could let the building go. I need to figure out how to do my business in a different way and the financial hardship of unknowingly having to live out of country for six months and not be here in my busy season. I mean, we had to lay off employees. We didn’t know if we were going to lose our house. It was a very financially stressful time that we came home, and it was like this building and this identity that I thought I couldn’t let go, we rented out the building. There was a renter who wanted it and signed a five-year lease. Two renters.

Vicki Taufer: It was beautiful, and it allowed me for those, again, five years, they both signed five-year leases, there’s that five year cycle, that allowed me to still work, but to also hold things, like you said, hold things loosely. I’ve learned to hold things very loosely. In that same time, we redid a house that our contractor was like, “Are you sure? You could probably build two houses for what you’re putting into this house.” We gutted an old house and redid it, and we’re like, “Nope. It’s either the grave or the nursing home. This is where we’re going to be forever.”

Vicki Taufer: It wasn’t a year later that we literally just opened the doors and people could come in and buy stuff, and we moved into a tiny little condo in Minnesota, because that’s where life took us. I just am not going to say, “This is how it’s going to be.” I think it’s great to have a plan. Sure, we got to have goals, but some of the best things that have happened in my life have been because I’ve been willing to go through some tough times, for our family to go through some tough times to then get on the other side of that.

Vicki Taufer: Actually when we talk to photographers even about having employees and things like that, it even ties into that of where I say hire slowly, fire quickly if things aren’t working out, but part of it is even like we’ve had situations with employees that they don’t even know what other… If we’re not a good fit, there’s other good fits for them that maybe they’ve been able to really thrive and do amazing things because we were able to let them go, or there was something else there for them.

Vicki Taufer: Some things just don’t work out or there’s just something better on the other side, and it’s just being willing and open. And like you said, faith and family, those things, yeah, the stake’s in the ground with that. But beyond that, I’m not going to hold onto it so tightly. It’d be too boring. I would get too bored, honestly. There’s that piece too.

Allison Tyler Jones: No, it’s true. I think that’s true of many creatives is that to our detriment, at least for me, Ivan, when he came into the business, he’s like, “Hun, you cannot change everything every single year. At some point, you got to leave something. Well, the stuff that’s working, let’s keep that. You don’t have to pull everything up by the roots every single year.” Because I’m like, okay, this year we’re going to do this and we’re going to do this. We want the challenge. We want things to be new.

Allison Tyler Jones: But I feel like anybody that’s listening to this that feels like you’re stuck or you feel hopeless or you feel like things are not going to work, it really is just might be right around the corner. Maybe just hold things a little more loosely and think what if it did work out rather than what if it didn’t. I just think this year is going to be hard. There’s a lot of political uncertainty.

Allison Tyler Jones: I was listening to, I don’t know, some talk show the other day and they were talking about how America’s actually doing really great economically, but there’s a public perception of negativity, of everybody really feeling like things are bad and they aren’t economically. I mean, that does not mean there are not hard things going on in the world. Absolutely there are, but our country as a whole is doing pretty well economically, but that everybody has more of a pessimistic attitude. We’ve come out of the pandemic.

Allison Tyler Jones: We’ve had so many hard things that have happened. Everybody’s had hard things that have happened in their life. Can we maybe look forward and say, “What’s new? What’s coming? And can we have a little bit of hope and look for some positivity, look for a new thing?” I’m feeling that in my own life, especially being finally settled in our house and finally settled in our studio, the last three years have just been this hard slog to get where we were. And now I’m like, oh, okay, I can breathe again.

Allison Tyler Jones: I can now start to think, well, what do I want to do for this year? It doesn’t have to be a big thing, a little thing. Just look forward with a little bit more positivity and hope.

Vicki Taufer: For sure. For sure. I mean, I really can’t say anything else do that. I 100% agree, and I think so much of it does come down to just… It sounds so basic and cliche maybe, but looking at the glass half full or half empty. I mean, it’s a choice I guess too. That’s my big thing. You have to choose it even when it’s hard. There will be hard times, and it’s not easy to go through a lot of the things that people go through that we’ve gone through.

Vicki Taufer: But I’m sitting here right now today in the studio, Jed and I literally, it’s a season. I know there will be hard seasons coming and trying to even just when it is a season like this, really take it in. Really take it in. And we’ll catch ourselves saying, “We have to remember this right now,” because we know there will be different things that happen. It’ll be harder and different and…

Allison Tyler Jones: Appreciate when it’s good. Yeah, for sure. So often I think with life, we treat it maybe like a six or seven-year-old kid when they’re used to Christmas. They’ve had a few Christmases under their belt. You know how when they’re first little three or four, they open a present and they just want to play with that when they’re so excited about it, right? Then they got six or seven or eight and they open one and they’re like, next, next. And how we often get like that. We’re like, okay, well, now we moved into the new house.

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay, now we got this, or now we did this, and we’re just like next, next, and we don’t just stop. And I think this is especially creatives, we’re critical of our own work. Okay, well, I figured out that lighting. I figured out that lens. Okay, next, next. And we’re just so onto the next thing, we don’t take a minute to go, look at this portrait that I just created of this mother and child, or whatever it is, and just appreciate, I am able to support my family doing what I most of the time love.

Vicki Taufer: Yeah, you’re right. Let’s be honest, right? It’s not always.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah, so I love that. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. I want to see that hinge wall. You need to post something about that or text me a picture of it.

Vicki Taufer: Right now it’s just in my head. I’m sure if I Google it, I’ll see some ideas that I can share with Jed, and then yeah, I’ll come up with something.

Allison Tyler Jones: You can make it happen. So when are you thinking that you’ll be open?

Vicki Taufer: Yes. Obviously, I mean, I have been meeting with clients in the mess, but I work well with deadlines, so I forced myself to the chamber, reached out about having a ribbon cutting for our new studio. And so that’s towards the end of February. I felt comfortable that I could have it in a good enough state, probably not totally finished, but a good enough state that I would feel good about it and I want to start promoting it, so getting all those people in this space and getting excited about it and seeing that it’s okay if it’s not totally done.

Vicki Taufer: I mean, my business really is busy from the second half of the year. Not that I shouldn’t or couldn’t promote to get a little more things happening this time of the year. I mean, I do photo a lot of high school seniors, so this time of the year, what it usually is, it’s a lot of the seniors who were photographed, but they are waiting to actually order now.

Allison Tyler Jones: Sure, for announcements or whatever.

Vicki Taufer: It’s a nice cashflow thing for me because I actually get some good orders in my slow time. But ultimately, my goal is by spring and then into summer when I’m really getting busy, I hope to be mostly done.

Allison Tyler Jones: About how many sessions do you guys shoot in a year?

Vicki Taufer: It varies. At the height of our business, people are like 350, which just makes my head spin. Yeah, that was when I was the photographer. That was like next, next, like what you were saying. So it’s mostly seniors and families are my big thing. I do some commercial work, headshot, personal branding stuff, but it’s like 50 sessions, give or take.

Allison Tyler Jones: When you’re a single only photographer, you’re doing most of it. That’s a good sweet spot.

Vicki Taufer: Yeah, it is. And then I do mix in a couple times a year, I will do some mini type sessions, so I guess it wouldn’t include those, but I’ll do fun things around Christmastime. Yeah, just a little I call them limited editions. So my location will be really fun for that. I’m actually really excited about that because of the age of my kids, because their friends are super excited about the space and our location is just where all the things happen on Main Street. They do a thing for trick or treating and Christmas and special business that the businesses are open.

Vicki Taufer: So I did one thing one year for… I set up this super cool moody lighting setup. It was just black and white images for Trick or Treat Main Street, and I think I had 350 kids come through in a couple hours that they thought they were just going to have this cheesy, I don’t know, just whatever, but it ended up being within two seconds beautiful black and white images that they had to obviously go to a site. So then I captured their information like a week later. But people still all the time, “Are you going to do that again?” Just this location. The people listening don’t probably obviously understand the old location versus the new location. It’s only a couple blocks away, but it’s literally in the heart of the town.

Allison Tyler Jones: I love that.

Vicki Taufer: I mean, it’s just constant. People are always stopping, my husband, my mother-in-law, my father-in-law. I’m getting messages of it’s like this little revival in our town of a lot of the buildings getting redone and businesses coming in. Kind of like this after COVID, just fresh stuff happening, and they’re just so excited because this building honestly did not look good before.

Vicki Taufer: It was covered in siding. They thought they were eight-foot windows, all these things. The brick wall that’s gorgeous was completely covered with drywall, and now it is this gorgeous twelve foot windows. It’s exposed brick. Even for our town, people are excited of something looking nice and a fun new place.

Allison Tyler Jones: Well, you’ve always been part of the community, but now proximity, you’re a daily part of the community.

Vicki Taufer: Yeah. Right. Right. Yeah. Check in with me and see how it goes. I’m interested to see that going from not having the walk-in ability for people to just peek in, see the privacy factor versus being right here. I definitely foresee that being good and bad and figuring out how to deal with that because it is just me. I feel like now this pressure of I don’t have employees, now do I need an employee so that I can be more just open for people to come in?

Allison Tyler Jones: You might. If you get people walking in on a session or whatever like that, we had to lock our doors and buzz people in just because we had scary people walking in.

Vicki Taufer: Right. Right. Hoping not that case, but just… Well, there’ll be some things to figure out. I think right now if someone asked me, “Are you going to hire anybody? What does that even look like,” I would be very slow to hire, but I could see adding someone very part-time to just have a couple regular business hours to be a presence that people could pop in and just see the space or just to help with little things here and there.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah, or even for a little while as you started just to get people to come in and see.

Vicki Taufer: Sure, right, because I don’t want it to take too much away from obviously like, oh, I have this home office now and I’m with the kids. I don’t want to feel like I have to be here. It’s not far. It’s like a 10-minute drive close, but I don’t want to have to feel like I have to go in.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah, agreed.

Vicki Taufer: Especially when it’s negative 35 out.

Allison Tyler Jones: No. Yes. I love it. I love it. Well, good luck with everything. I can’t wait to see what you do with it. Keep us posted and everybody can follow you on Instagram so they can see what’s going on. And thank you so much for taking the time today and inspiring us creatively.

Vicki Taufer: Well, thank you for having me.

Allison Tyler Jones: You’re the best.

Vicki Taufer: You’re the best.

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

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