Episode 208 – The Untold Story: A Photographer’s Switch from Prints to Digital Files and the Unexpected Aftermath.

Jenn Kerfeld


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute

Sarah Petty: Minnesota photographer, Jenn Kerfeld, opened her photography business in 2007. She offered her clients prints, but after a decade, she grew tired of hearing everyone ask for digital files. Her business wasn’t growing, so she decided to give the market what she thought they wanted. Today, Jenn’s sharing her journey from prints to selling digitals and the unexpected aftermath of that decision.

Jenn, I’m so glad you’re here. Give everybody a quick outline of your life.

Jenn Kerfeld: When I started my business, I sold prints and never gave digitals. After a few years in business, I started feeling like everybody was doing digitals. I thought I needed to start offering them because that’s what everyone was doing and who was going to call me if I wasn’t doing what everyone else was offering.

So I started a hybrid model in 2018, and I did that for two years and it was not fun. It made me want to not do photography at all. None of my clients wanted anything printed and so I never knew what they actually liked from their session. That was a hard thing for me. And one of the biggest reasons why I switched to the boutique model in 2020 is because I just felt like I wasn’t serving my clients and I wasn’t having any fun.

Sarah Petty: You came to Go Boutique Live in Dallas. Our very first one right before the pandemic. You got a scholarship from White House Custom Color, but you had to get a flight and a hotel room and fly from Minnesota down to Texas. What made you do that? Did you know what I taught?

Jenn Kerfeld: I applied for that scholarship through White House because my assistant saw a flier and she thought it would be a good idea to go. I got the scholarship  and it would’ve been crazy for me to say no to not at least listening. I was familiar with your boutique model, but never really thought I needed any help. Then after a couple of years of the hybrid model, I knew I couldn’t figure this out on my own.

Sarah Petty: Were you working all the time? I remember you vividly saying you fell out of love with your business.

Jenn Kerfeld: Yeah, all the time. I didn’t feel valued. I felt like a transaction and I was like, well, I could work anywhere and not be away from my kids for this kind of life. I just didn’t feel like what I was doing mattered.

Sarah Petty: And you made a decision and took an action that got you out of that place. A way that didn’t mean giving up your camera. It brought you back to the joy, which makes me happy. We all need money, we have to pay our bills, but there is a difference between the amount of joy you get from sitting with a client and having them cry at their images and pick out artwork. So you became boutique and started loving photography again, but it’s not just one fix and life is so easy. There are ebbs and flows and ups and downs. What have you learned in all of these years? What’s transpired in your business?

Jenn Kerfeld: I think what I’ve learned the most is that having a community of people that surround me, push me and work with me has been super instrumental for me. I didn’t have that prior either, it was just me and my assistant. And then learning all the processes and all the things I didn’t know. There are so many things about the boutique business that I was kind of doing, but I wasn’t doing it right.

Sarah Petty: There’s such power in going toward your goal with a group of people who are like minded and have the same goals.

Sarah Petty: Now you’ve been in business for a lot of years, how have you changed the way you look at your business now?

Jenn Kerfeld: When I look at my year at a glance at the beginning of the year, I think about how many sessions I need to do and what my average is going to be. In order to do less, you have to make your average higher. So, I go through the steps and relook at everything and make sure that I maximize each of those relationships. This year, I don’t want to photograph more, but I did set a goal to have a higher  revenue goal. So I have to figure out my systems and processes a little bit more to up my average.

Sarah Petty: Do you ever feel like in your business you maybe are sloppy or you just go through the motions sometimes until you’re forced to tidy up your systems and processes?

Jenn Kerfeld: Yeah, I think it’s easy to get comfortable. But also going through the process is really great because it makes me re-look at what I am doing and figure out where the holes are in my system.

Sarah Petty: Yeah, I love that. What’s next for you? What’s the BHAG, the Big Hairy Audacious Goal?

Jenn Kerfeld: I have this idea for some really amazing and cool things working with farmers and their legacy of the farm. So I’m very excited about it, and I don’t want to share too much because I kind of want to see where it goes first and what we can do, but I’m just excited to have time to think of cool ideas like that. I never would be able to even put the energy into taking 2 or 3 days off in the middle of the week to go to a farm show. That’s kind of something I’m really excited about. I can be creative and I really can do the kind of photography that I’ve always really wanted to do, photography that matters to people, not just the quick picks.

Sarah Petty: That’s so cool. Thank you for being here and sharing your story.

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