Episode 110: Are You Too Old To Start a Photography Business? 

Start a Photography Business


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute

I am here with Cheryl Drury, a really good photographer from Georgia.

I’m excited for you to hear her story, because I know some of you are doubting yourself and your skills.

Cheryl Drury:

I am a mom of four, my husband and I live on a horse farm, and we’re in Georgia.

My youngest child is 18, but I had four in five years, so I was very busy for many years.

Now I’m getting ready to get the last one graduated.

I take a lot of pictures, and I did not have a business.

I knew I wanted a business and I had done some shoot-and-burn sessions and I found it very unsatisfying.

I also do photography for my girls’ barn.

They ride horses, and I do all the show photography for our barn.

The whole process of photographing and handing someone a file, a link, or a USB stick was very unsatisfying.

I didn’t see where it could go until Boutique Breakthrough.

Sarah Petty:


So I want to talk about your journey and how you got your “Julie”.

A “Julie” is a $1k or more client.

So you didn’t have a business, so where did you get your photography skills? 

Cheryl Drury:

I started off by trial and error, and I’ve taken some classes online before.

And then I started going to a few workshops in person.

I worked with a sports photographer, actually a couple of excellent Olympic sports photographers, and really enjoyed that.

With my four kids all being athletes, I was constantly photographing football, wrestling, riding, and track and cross country.

So I just really loved the sports, and got very heavy into that.

But at one of the workshops, we did sports portraits.

I had never done portraits before and I fell in love with them.

I decided I really wanted to pursue that, but couldn’t figure out how to make it a business. 

Sarah Petty:

So what made you think you could start a business and make money with this?

Was it because you had more time than before? 

Cheryl Drury:

Not going to lie, the equipment is crazy expensive, and the classes that I love so much are expensive.

And I wanted a way to make that self-sustaining if I could.

Sarah Petty:

And you can write off all that education and equipment if you have income.

So if you could charge some people just enough to pay for your hobby then it would be worth it.

Cheryl Drury:

Shoot-and-burn just wasn’t making me much money, and I couldn’t figure out how to make it worth it…

It didn’t feel like it was worth my time, and it was just so unsatisfying because I knew those pictures were never going anywhere but in some cloud. 

Sarah Petty:

So you’re not making money and you’re not getting the fulfillment of people freaking out over your portraits because they are just getting digital files.

What led you to us?

Cheryl Drury:

I believe it was your podcast.

And my kids also encouraged me to make this a business and charge.

But listening to your podcast, I knew there was something more.

I knew there was a way to find satisfaction as an artist.

The satisfaction of knowing that these beautiful works you have seen all the way through to completion, that’s really where the satisfaction comes in.

And then the money is great, because you are charging what it’s worth. 

Sarah Petty:

I love your belief.

I want to jump forward a little bit.

You got your “Julie”, an $1,800 order, which is exactly what my “Julie” was.

What did that feel like? 

Cheryl Drury:

It was a friend, and I walked out of her house and almost started crying.

I was actually practicing this part on her because that’s where I was in the Boutique Breakthrough workshop.

When I got over to her house, the only pictures there were snapshots.

She has not ever taken family pictures.

I knew the pictures I had taken were pretty good and I had everything done for the IPS and showed her the portraits.

I looked over and she was weeping.

It turned out to be exactly what her heart wanted, too.

Sarah Petty:

That’s so beautiful, because so many photographers are scared of that presentation, and I always say that is the best part.

If you’ve done your job then that part is a gift to your clients.

Cheryl Drury:

It was wonderful.

Actually, she wants me to come back and photograph her two older girls as well.

Sarah Petty:

Yeah, and once she feels what it feels like to have that beautiful artwork finished and hanging on her walls, the lifetime value of that one “Julie” is incredible.

So, when you came into Boutique Breakthrough and you were still learning, and you worked with this person, what were your fears? 

Cheryl Drury:

I was afraid that I was too old.

And my business wasn’t bringing any money in, so why am I spending more money on it? 

Also the timing was not ideal, but I decided to jump in now anyways.

Sarah Petty:

And how do you feel now?

Cheryl Drury:

I’m so grateful that I did it.

Sarah Petty:

Do you see how this is going to fit in your life and now pay off all those things, and afford you more opportunities?

I’m hoping you’re seeing your business as this huge opportunity.

Cheryl Drury:


It’s not only the money.

It is a precious gift to be able to take this big, beautiful picture over to someone who has now become your friend.

That’s a gift.

Sarah Petty:

Doesn’t that feel good?

I just feel the smile on your face, because I know what that feels like to have this passion and drive and want to do it, but not feeling fulfilled when people don’t order.

Cheryl, thank you so much for coming and sharing your story.

So proud of you.

Are You Too Old To Start a Photography Business?


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