Episode 35: Derek Cookson on Selling Yourself as a Photographer

Derek Cookson: Selling yourself as a photographer
Derek Cookson left behind a life in IT when he moved from Canada to the U.S. and decided to pursue his passion for photography. Today, he’s bringing the (trademarked) Derek Cookson joy to weddings and family sessions as a full time wedding photographer in the Detroit, Michigan area. I’ve had the pleasure of shooting with Derek—he’s the kind of guy that you want by your side at a wedding.

A few topics from today’s show:

  • Standing out from the crowd and selling yourself as a photographer.
  • What should you look for in a photography studio space? (And hear how Derek shares his space to make it more affordable)
  • Is a storefront photography studio a good idea?
  • What’s the benefit of presenting photos in person after the wedding?
  • Find out what kind of gear Derek likes to have along with him during weddings and shoots.

Check out Derek’s gorgeous work below, and be sure to visit his website for more.

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And to go along with our conversation, Derek was kind enough to share a few examples from his very first wedding. Thanks, Derek!

D Cookson first wedding

Episode 32: How Amy and Jordan Demos Both Quit Their Jobs & Took Wedding Photography by Storm

Amy and Jordan photography advice

Amy and Jordan were high school sweethearts— they met when they were 14 years old in freshman english class. After becoming teachers in the same school, Amy found herself getting pulled in by the world of photography. Jordan soon followed, and within a few years, they had both quit their day jobs to run their wedding photography business full time as a husband and wife team.

A few topics from today’s show:

  • The journey toward becoming a full time husband and wife wedding photography team, including why Amy and Jordan chose to quit both of their jobs at the same time rather than having one jump all in first, and how they made it work.
  • How Amy and Jordan have used their blog to attract clients (sometimes they even attract clients before they meet their future spouses).
  • What does the client experience look like for Amy and Jordan couples? How many touch points do they have with clients throughout the experience?
  • Why do Amy and Jordan always meet couples at Starbucks for their first meetings?
  • Learn why Amy and Jordan insist on engagement sessions.
  • Listen to how Amy and Jordan talk about how they connect with clients throughout the year through personal social media.

Check out Amy and Jordan’s free ebook, Make Your Dream Job a Reality for more advice about making the leap into full time photography.

Check out some of their beautiful work below, and be sure to check out their website and follow Amy and Jordan on Instagram to see more.

Amy and Jordan Photography advice and photos View More: View More: View More:

Episode 24: Mikkel Mihlrad on Leaps of Faith and Re-establishing in a New Location

Mikkel Paige Photography

I’ve known Mikkel since we met on a photography forum and ended up sharing a hotel room at WPPI back in 2011. The same outlook that led her to share a room with a complete stranger at a conference has driven her to take other leaps of faith in her photography career—including starting over after two huge moves. In this interview, Mikkel shares the story of how she got started as a photographer, what drove her to take the leaps she’s taken, how it all worked out and the lessons she’s learned along the way.

Check out Mikkel’s awesome work below, and be sure to check out her website and Instagram account for more.





Episode 23: LeAnna Gerety on Client Experience and Word of Mouth Recommendations

LeAnna Gerety

LeAnna Gerety had degrees in business and marketing and a great job with a wonderful company, but she was tired of getting up every single day to go work for someone else. In this interview, hear how how LeAnna built LeAnna Theresa Photography into a full time career through hard work, great client experiences and word of mouth recommendations.

A few topics from this show:

  • The unique way that LeAnna prepared herself to take on weddings of her own.
  • How LeAnna has shifted her business mindset to adjust to changes in the photography business today.
  • How LeAnna connects with clients in a way that has them referring her to friends.
  • How LeAnna uses her photography to give back to her community.
  • How LeAnna balances clients by scheduling shoots during the week (and getting clients to take time off of work to come to her).


Check out some of LeAnna’s work below, and be sure to follow her on Instagram and check out her blog for more.



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LeAnna Theresa Photography

Episode 6: Shari + Mike on Getting Past the Fear of Unknown

Shari and Mike

Photograph by Sarah Rhoads

Shari and Mike from ShariLee Photography (now Shari + Mike) caught my eye a while back. This couple out of Vancouver consistently shows off deliciously beautiful photographs on their blog, and I liked them even more after sitting down to chat over Skype.

In this interview, hear Shari and Mike talk about:

  • Fear and risk taking (getting uncomfortable and “going for it”)
  • The “aha” moment
  • Business vs. art
  • Starting over as a “newbie” in a new city
  • Building a support system
  • Staying true to yourself as an artist

Recommended Reading:

See Shari and Mike’s recent work on their blog.

Episode 4: Vue Photography on Creating a Business with Personality

Vue Photography GirlsThere’s something about Genya and Wesleyann’s blog that just draws you in—from their fun bio photos to the warning that their blog contains “large doses of caffeine” (and don’t we all?), you can’t help but want to hang out with these two.

Genya went to college for photography, but she never imagined that she’d become a wedding photographer. After spending some time doing commercial photography, she found her way into weddings and realized that was where she fit.

Genya met Wesleyann at a vendor meeting in Florida that Wesleyann was coordinating. The two hit it off (in part because Wesleyann already felt like she knew Genya through her blog), and this duo went on to grow a bright, shiny and happy photography business together.

A few bits of advice you’ll hear from the ladies of Vue in this interview:

  • Be 100% honest with each other.
  • Stay true to yourself and let that come through in the work. Don’t deny who you are.
  • When choosing images for your blog, only show the images that  make you take in a breath or otherwise react.
  • You’ll learn the most from your mistakes.
  • You should always be learning, growing and moving forward.
  • Take time for yourself.
  • Value your work.
  • Learn to say no.
  • Stay positive and focus on what can be.
  • Trust your gut.
  • Don’t be afraid to be open and reach out to other photographers. There are plenty of weddings to go around. Be friends and learn from each other (you’ll hear a story in this interview about a time when those relationships came in quite handy when another photographer came to the rescue in an otherwise disastrous situation).



Vue Photography





Episode 2: Dale Benfield: Staying True to Yourself and Avoiding Debt While Starting Your Business

dalesMUG1-200x300As a teen, Dale Benfield worked as a printer in his Dad’s photo lab, so it was a natural next step for him to become a photographer himself. Dale started his photography business right out of high school as a way to pay for college (his first wedding involved a ceremony in Klingon—you’ll hear more about the ensuing hilarity in the interview).

Dale continued the photography business on the side as he pursued a career as a high school teacher. Five years ago, he gave up teaching and moved to Arkansas to be closer to Meredith, who he recently married in Italy. When the business blew up, Meredith joined him full time.

Learn how Dale and Meredith have grown a booming business by staying true to themselves and constantly striving to better themselves in business. Also hear Dale’s philosophies about being smart with money—including his approach to buying new equipment, investing in himself and avoiding debt while starting a photography business.

Recommended reading:

A few gorgeous photos from Benfield Photography:






See more of Dale and Meredith’s awesome work at the following:

Episode 1: Benjamin Derkin on Authentic Marketing

Benjamin Derkin Bio Photo

Benjamin Derkin of Derk’s Works Photography has been making money from photography for seven years and working as a full time photographer for three. He also teaches workshops for beginning photographers with the folks at Prize Winning Photography.

A few topics from today’s show:

  • Selling yourself authentically
  • Making money through art
  • Artistic value
  • Creating business allies
  • Focusing on people and relationships
  • Experimenting with marketing

Recommended Reading:

Check out Benjamin’s inspiring work below, and see more of his work on his blog.







Benjamin Derkin Wedding Photo

Benjamin Derkin Wedding Photo

Benjamin Derkin Wedding Photo

Benjamin Derkin Wedding Photo

Benjamin Derkin Wedding Photo

Benjamin Derkin Wedding Photo

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