This lady right here. I (Elizabeth) personally owe her so much for teaching me how to have some "business smarts" in this industry. From the very beginning I have been observing how she handles her clients and life in general, and every time I learn something new! The way she inspires her senior spokesmodels for example, just amazes me! Ladies like this who support others instead of keeping their secrets to themselves are the main inspiration behind our #BossLady features. And we love them SO MUCH.
Leah of Lj Shepherd Photography is responsible for many of the beautiful photos featured on the Streets of Gold. So it's about time everyone got to know her a little better! She is smart, fashionable, and possesses a golden heart with just a touch of sass. She also has two crazy adorable little girls whom we also love! Erika and I consider ourselves blessed to have been tapped to form the LJSP GLAM SQUAD. Yes, we have a name. Be very jealous.
Lj Shepherd Photography
My company is Lj Shepherd Photography. I specialize in high school senior portrait photography, based out of Bellingham.
Like so many other mothers who go into photography, I started shooting because I wanted to capture my children at every moment of their childhood. Photography became my outlet and passion very quickly, and soon people were asking me to photograph their families and children. I started my business about a year later, focusing on children and families but I felt like something was missing in my business. I decided I wanted to give senior portraits a shot, so I contacted a high school senior I knew and asked if she would model for me. We did our session together and I came home that night knowing instantly I only wanted to photograph seniors. 3 years later I have moved my business towards shooting about 90% seniors, and 10% other types of portraits.
What do you feel is unique about your business?
The most comments I get about my business is in regard to my senior spokesmodel program. I knew that I didn’t want to just have senior reps, which would just be the face of my business. I wanted to create a relationship with these girls, one where I could be a positive influence in their lives.
This year has been my biggest for spokesmodels, not only because I have a large number of amazing girls, but also because we are already forming a bond between us all unlike I have ever had. It’s really an amazing thing.
What are some big trends you are seeing right now and how can we incorporate them into our everyday lives?
I think a lot of the most popular looks come first from teens and youth and then are incorporated into mainstream fashion. Right now trends I am seeing among teens are a very relaxed, 90's inspired vibe (flannel, Birkenstocks, chokers and even overalls!) which makes me a bit nostalgic. If you’re like me and you don’t feel comfortable incorporating all these items into your wardrobe, start with pairing some 90's inspired accessories into your modern day outfits.
What is a hardship or challenge you have had to overcome and how did you handle that?
Last year my husband took a job in Seattle, which takes him away from home during the week. Because I have two young children, I had to limit the amount of time I could be away from the home working. This was hard because it included closing down my beloved studio and working from home to be with my children more. I’ve now come to realize that limiting the work I do has allowed me to focus more on my clients individually and create a better experience for them. What I thought originally had been a bit of a failure has been more of a stepping stone for me to take my business to where I needed it to be.
How do you balance being a #bosslady with having a family/life?
Staying organized is key, and I admittedly still struggle with it. When my life gets chaotic and business is busy, I rely on management software to keep my business organized, keeping as much automated as possible. I have limited the number of sessions I will take in one week as to not affect our beloved weekend family time together. I also try to stay organized at home as much as possible (chore charts and crock pot meals are my saving grace!) so that when I’m booking back to back sessions my kids are still fed and happy.
If you could give someone starting their own business any advice what would it be?
Most photography business owners make the same mistake of jumping into the game without knowing how to be profitable. It’s really hard to start charging for your craft and knowing WHAT you should charge without doing your research. Take a hard look at what it costs to run a business while still making a profit, and determine what you actually need to charge vs what others are charging. Knowing how you need to price yourself properly will keep you from quickly failing or quitting the game.
Leah's beautiful head shots were graciously provided by Mkdaughters Photography! The Senior photos are only a small sample of the brilliant work Leah does with her seniors, make sure you scroll to the right to see them all!