Raleigh Newborn Photographer | At Home with Winston

After almost 13 years as a Raleigh newborn photographer, I have found a new love.

One thing I’ve always loved about photography is that there’s always something new. As someone who gets bored easily, I’ve learned that I need to consistently challenge myself. But it gets harder to find something new to excite you after so many years!

But I’m smitten.

When I owned the Be True Baby photography studio, I specialized in newborns, and I loved it so much! I did offer in-home newborn sessions prior to the studio, but I never really found my rhythm with it.

I miss my sweet babies though! So I nervously agreed when a long-time client asked me to photograph her newborn session at home. And well, I’ll let you see for yourself…

Raleigh Newborn Photographer | Christy Johnson Photography | Be True Baby

As it turns out, my years of experience photographing hundreds of newborns in my studio translated seamlessly to my in-home lifestyle newborn photography.

Raleigh Newborn Photographer | Christy Johnson Photography | Be True Baby

And of course, it helps when your clients have a beautiful, light-filled home! Even on this overcast day, the light poured in from all directions.

I was also inspired by mom’s light and airy dress, and this sign below was begging for a capture of the whole family!

Raleigh Newborn Photographer | Christy Johnson Photography | Be True Baby

My style of soft simplicity comes through in the images, but I love that with in-home newborn sessions, we also get more personality, more of what makes you YOU in the images you’ll hang on your walls. The best of both worlds.

I can’t get enough.

Raleigh Newborn Photographer | At Home with Winston

Christy Johnson is a newborn, child, and family photographer in Raleigh, NC, specializing in capturing the milestones of baby’s first year. Christy is also a coach and mentor for portrait photographers, teaching all aspects of a profitable photography business, including photography, photo editing, branding, marketing, pricing, sales, service, and more to photographers around the world.

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Business Coaching for Photographers

What is a photography business coach?

What is a business coach for photographers? And how do you find the right one for you?

The professional photography community has seen explosive growth in the 13 years since I opened my business. And with the advances of technology in equipment and software, the learning curve to develop your talent as a photographer has never been shorter.

But being a good photographer – even a great photographer – doesn’t guarantee a successful business.

Many photographers absorb every drop of information they can find online, assembling their businesses in a patchwork of advice from YouTube, Google, and Facebook groups. You really can learn almost anything on the internet for free!

Inevitably, though, this approach fails. Figuring it all out on your own is tough! And it can take a long time to weed through all the information out there. Eventually, information overload leads to overwhelm and paralysis, and we get stuck.

The next natural step is to invest in education, and many photographers will see progress after purchasing online courses and attending photography workshops.

But there is no one-size-fits-all formula to succeed in business. And of course, a one-to-many educational model can’t account for the myriad individual challenges students might face due to things like race, identity, health challenges, location, and more.

Sadly, at this point, many talented photographers hit a wall. They run out of time or money or both, and their passion and excitement start to fade. They question whether they have what it takes to make it in business. And all too often, they quit.

But there’s another way to grow a sustainable, profitable photography business: the photography business coach. (Ahem…like me! ☺️)

What is a Photography Business Coach?

A photography business coach is an experienced photographer who has seen success in their own business, and they use the knowledge and skills they’ve developed over time to help other photographers succeed.

As your coach, my first job is to help you clarify what you want to achieve in your business. Next, we’ll plot out a clear path for you to accomplish those goals. And most importantly, I’m right there with you, as you navigate the path forward, learn from mistakes, make course corrections, and meet and even exceed your goals.

Business Coach for Photographers | Christy Johnson

Benefits of Hiring a Business Coach for Photographers

Investing in photography business coaching has many benefits, including saving you time, making more money, reducing your stress, and more.

A Photography Business Coach Helps You Save Time

One of the best advantages to hiring a photography business coach is that they can save you time – and a lot of it.

Think about it this way: if you want to learn to play the piano, you have several options available to you. You could hit keys at random, sounding out the song you want to play note by note. Unless you’re a musical prodigy, I think we can agree it would take a long time to figure out how to play your song.

Or, you could find an online course and follow its step-by-step instructions. This method will help you quite a bit more than the previous example, but if you get stuck, there’s no one to help you and nowhere to really turn. But if you are motivated to stick with it, you’ll probably learn to play your song.

Alternatively, you could hire a skilled piano teacher. Your teacher can sit on the bench alongside you, seeing your mistakes and helping you make corrections in the moment. With this approach, you could be playing your piece in the span of an afternoon.

Similarly, it is much faster to learn how to grow a successful photography business from someone who knows the skills you need and the mistakes to avoid. A coach can be your ultimate shortcut, getting your business moving faster and more efficiently.

A Coach Helps You Make More Money in Your Photography Business

Saving a lot of time equals money in your pocket. The saying “time is money” is cliché for a reason! Your time is your most valuable asset – you can’t get it back once it’s gone, making it the one thing you certainly can’t afford to waste.

With a few tweaks, a coach can often improve your revenue and profits quickly. And of course, over time, the difference in cash flow into your business can be pretty dramatic.

Coaching for Photographers Reduces Stress

Think for a moment about the last road trip you took. You probably planned out everything you needed to do in advance: you filled up the car, checked the tires, you packed a bag – or overpacked, if you’re like me! You also made plans for where you’d stop on the way to your destination and what you would do when you got there.

Now think about how your trip would have gone without the plan you had in place. What if you tried to make it to your destination without the GPS, without gas for your car, without packing snacks for the kids? Your trip would probably have been a lot more stressful, am I right?

Consider your business as a journey, with your coach as your guide. She’s tried many different routes and knows the fastest ones. She also knows what to bring and what to leave home. And she knows what it takes to get where you want to go, with less time and less stress. And of course, she brings the best snacks.

A Photography Business Coach Offers Constructive Criticism

Your partner, your best friend, and your mom love you too much to tell it to you straight. Besides, they won’t know what you really need in your business.

That’s a coach’s job. If your coach sees problem areas in your business is being run, she can help you approach them from a more objective place. It’s hard to get that kind of perspective up close in your business, so this is a huge asset to a photographer!

A Business Coach Helps You Break Through Limiting Beliefs

Limiting beliefs are beliefs rooted in negative past experiences that shape how we view the world. These beliefs usually come from messages we received in the past, but they hold us back from taking positive action in the present.

Two of the most common limiting beliefs I see in photographers I work with are limiting beliefs about money and limiting beliefs about yourself.

Limiting beliefs often become a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you subconsciously don’t believe that you deserve money or success, you’ll subtly sabotage your own business.

A good coach helps a photographer identify underlying limiting beliefs and overcome them so they don’t hobble your business for years to come.

How Photography Business Coaching Works

Expect regular meetings with your coach, on a schedule that you work out together. In between, you can typically have some way to ask questions and receive help as well. You’ll share all of the ins and out of your business as it currently stands, as well as your vision and goals for the future. Be prepared to set aside some time each week to work on your business, not just in it.

How to Find a Business Coach for Photographers

First, ask around to other photographers in your niche to get referrals. And of course, there’s always our friend, Google.

Once you find some options, take some time to get familiar with what they offer. The clearer you are on what you want, the easier it will be to find someone who can provide what you need. Schedule a call and have a conversation with them. It’s important that you feel heard and understood, and feel like you can work well together.

Have Questions?

Feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments below. Your question may help another photographer find an answer they’re looking for too!

Interested in coaching for your photography business? Schedule a call with me!

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Raleigh Family Photographer | Linen and Light

I’m back to share another recent session with a returning client! If you saw my posts about my photography journey as a Raleigh family photographer, you know that I “kind of” retired after I closed my studio. Over the course of this year, I’ve only taken on sessions from returning clients that have asked.

This beautiful family first found me when big brother Noland was just a baby. And now we’ve completed another round of baby’s first year photos with his baby brother, Noah!

At this point, I think we’ve used every square inch of Joyner Park for all of our sessions together. That’s partly why I love this park so much – so many gorgeous natural areas!

Raleigh Family Photographer | Christy Johnson Photography

This first shot of Noland in the next collage was my color temperature test shot. He’s gotten used to me doing that with every session, and he throws me the best smiles – they’re always a keeper!

Raleigh Family Photographer | Christy Johnson Photography

I love the light peeking through on those images of mom and dad together. And I love how he makes her laugh. When is the last time you had a new photo of your and your partner – just the two of you?

I only have one or two spots remaining for an outdoor family session this fall! Contact me for information and to schedule your own family photography in Raleigh, Wake Forest, and the Triangle area!

Raleigh Family Photographer | Linen and Light

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My Photography Journey | Part One

My photography love story begins fifteen years ago.

After months of trying, an uneventful pregnancy, a failed induction, and a c-section, my oldest child was born 11 days past my due date in October 2006.

Eight days later, I pulled out my tiny Nikon Coolpix point-and-shoot camera to take photos for a birth announcement. I was not a photographer, had never studied photography, and newborn photography wasn’t really a “thing.”

But I knew I wanted something soft and sweet to announce our new addition to friends and family, so I turned off the flash on the camera and laid my precious new baby on a hand-knit white blanket. Then I opened the blinds and started shooting away.

2006 Newborn | Christy Johnson Photography
My heart, living and breathing outside of my body.

Even though these are just snapshots, it’s funny to look back and see how my soft, simple style was always in me, even when I didn’t know it.

This child, since birth, has been non-stop motion. Most of the photos I got that day were unusable – without the flash, the little camera couldn’t freeze the actions of a wiggy, wide awake baby. But I never liked overly flashy photos. “I need a faster camera to keep up with this kid!” I declared to my husband.

Two months later, he surprised me with my first DSLR camera for Christmas. It was a Canon Rebel, complete with a kit lens and all the accessories.

I eagerly started playing around with my new camera, but every photo I took was awful. I tried reading the manual, but it may as well have been written in Greek. I couldn’t understand any of it!

Around that same time, I was forced to cut my maternity leave short by two weeks and return early to my full-time job as an onsite sales agent for a national homebuilder. Working full-time with a newborn didn’t leave a lot of time for a new hobby, so I just dabbled a bit here and there over the next year.

2007 Christy Johnson Photography
Playing with my new camera was fun and frustrating throughout 2007.

Back then, internet forums were just starting to become popular. I happened on to one called ilovephotography.com, and I was immediately hooked.

The people on ILP, as it was known, held nothing back when critiquing photos. They called it hard hat constructive criticism (HHCC), and it could be brutal. Many a budding photographer was reduced to tears after posting a photo she’d worked hard for, only to have it torn to bits.

I loved it. Not that I posted any photos myself, nope nope nope – I was way too chicken for that! Instead, I would soak up every word they rained down on some poor soul’s image. I’d dissect what went wrong, what went right, and what could be improved. I photographed my baby, I photographed our pets. And when they got sick of the camera in their faces, I photographed stuffed animals on the back porch.

I practiced, I read, and I absorbed everything I could in the free time I had. The results were terrible.

2008 Christy Johnson Photography
Fall of 2008. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong, but I was too afraid to ask.

By the fall of 2008, the real estate market was crashing around us. I was the main income-earner in our family, earning 100% commission. I was also pregnant. Scared and stressed out, photography became my refuge.

In January 2009, my business, Christy Johnson Photography, was born. Baby number two came the very next month.

2009 Newborn | Christy Johnson Photography
My newborn photography changed quite a bit from baby #1 to baby #2.

Twelve weeks of maternity leave flew by, part newborn haze, part bouncy toddler, and part the start of a photography website. By the time I went back to work, I was ready to take on clients.

(I’ve marveled to many clients over the years about how much energy I must have had back then! A two-year old, a newborn, a full-time job, and starting a new business on the side. No one can tell me that mothers aren’t superheroes.)

Like a lot of beginning photographers, I struggled. As a former preschool teacher, interacting with the children was the easy part, but there was just so much to learn! Lighting. White balance, my long-time nemesis. And Photoshop, the biggest beast of them all.

2010 Christy Johnson Photography
The earliest client photos I could find. I know there’s more somewhere, because I photographed the sweet girl top left as a newborn.

Beyond the struggles with photography was the business side of things. Branding, pricing, sales, marketing, bookkeeping, taxes and more. So much more.

In early 2010, I hired my friend, Kathleen O’Grady, of Raleigh Coaching. It was my first experience with coaching, and it was wonderful. She helped me come up with a new brand that felt true to me as an artist and an entrepreneur. I called it Be True Image Design. (Because Be True Photography was taken, of course.)

2010 Be True Image Design
The first logo for Be True Image Design, circa 2010.

By the fall of 2010, I was excited about the direction of my business. At the same time, I was miserable. The real estate market had not yet recovered. Sales were down, which meant commissions were down. And as we all know, shit rolls downhill. The higher ups in our company squeezed us sales people as hard as they could, but we couldn’t sell what people weren’t willing to buy. They put the pressure on even harder, cutting bonuses on top of our already thinning paychecks. And then they reduced us from one weekend off per month to one weekend off per quarter.

That broke the last f%*& I had left to give. Before the change to my weekends, I barely got to see my husband as it was; we were ships crossing in the night, passing off childcare duties for two very young children at home. We treasured our one weekend a month together as a family. To rip that family time away was a deal-breaker for me, and I began plotting my exit.

I was ready to become a full-time photographer.

2010 Christy Johnson Photography
By the fall of 2010, my photography skills had come a long way.

But that was a problem. My husband worked for a tiny company, and he didn’t earn enough to support us if I quit. His company also didn’t offer health benefits at the time.

I was stuck. I’d sit glumly at my desk, playing with the numbers, over and over. As the daughter of an entrepreneur, being my own boss and calling all the shots was in my makeup. And I desperately wanted to be home with my kids, who were growing so fast. I knew I could do both – be home with my kids and run a business on the side. It would be hard, but I could see the dream so clearly in my head.

I concocted a plan to quit my job in January 2011. But the numbers just wouldn’t add up. The dream was destined to remain a dream.

I was beyond frustrated and angry at the world. It was hell.

And then, just before noon on a bright, sunny day in November of 2010, I called my husband at work. “I just got fired,” I told him through my tears.

Shell-shocked, we went to lunch to talk things through, and by the end of his lunch hour, we had a plan.

I was free.

This is part one of a short series about my photography journey. Stay tuned to read more!

Christy Johnson is a newborn, child, and family photographer in Raleigh, NC, specializing in capturing the milestones of baby’s first year. Christy is also a coach and mentor for portrait photographers, teaching all aspects of a profitable photography business, including photography, photo editing, branding, marketing, pricing, sales, service, and more to photographers around the world.

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Family Photographer Raleigh | Summery, Sunny Session

As a longtime family photographer in Raleigh, I adore photographing returning clients. It’s such a treat to have the opportunity to watch “my babies” grow up and bring back their new siblings!

In this summery session, sweet big sister Amelia brought her best smiles and silly antics to help baby sister Avery learn the ropes of a photo session. I’d say they both rocked it!

Can you even with those little toofers?!

Family Photographer in Raleigh NC | Family photography session on a sunny summer day in Raleigh NC.

Sometimes photo sessions can feel stressful for parents when the kids don’t seem to want to cooperate. I always assure parents that I only need a few fractions of seconds. Giving children the opportunity to play and take breaks is important also. The pressure to “perform” can be stressful for them too!

That’s why choosing a professional photographer who has experience with children is so important. It’s not just about light and posing, it’s also about knowing how to interact with kids of all ages to get the best (and most natural) expressions!

Family Photographer in Raleigh NC | Family photography session on a sunny summer day in Raleigh NC.

This session took place at Joyner Park in Wake Forest, which is my favorite location for family photography sessions! It’s a big park with plenty of natural areas. And just look at that light! So soft and dreamy.

It’s never too late for family photos! Contact me for information and to schedule your own family photography in Raleigh, Wake Forest, and the northern Triangle area!

Family Photographer Raleigh | Summery, Sunny Session

Christy Johnson is a newborn, child, and family photographer in Raleigh, NC, specializing in capturing the milestones of baby’s first year. Christy is also a coach and mentor for portrait photographers, teaching all aspects of a profitable photography business, including photography, photo editing, branding, marketing, pricing, sales, service, and more to photographers around the world.

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