WPPI Keynote Sue Bryce Reveals All

by Stacey Goldberg

February 17, 2016

It’s hard to believe that on March 3, we’ll be in Las Vegas for one of our favorite weeks of the year. We’ve been talking about WPPI since last year’s show wrapped, and now it’s finally time to delve into what to expect in 2016. Here, this year’s keynote speaker Sue Bryce, a recently named Canon Explorer of Light and published author of Portrait Posing: Posing 101 for Every Body Type, dishes the details on her highly anticipated presentation” “Amp Up Your In-Person Sales,” which will take place March 8, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.


All photos © Sue Bryce. 

What can we expect from your keynote?

Sue Bryce: In short, this presentation is about facing your biggest fears. I was the classic artist when I started: I had a beautiful folio, but I didn’t know how to sell it. Then I became an employed shooter, so selling wasn’t a problem. I showed up, took great images, and the studio did all the selling for me. But after 14 years of shooting, I realized I was a 32-year-old in a cool but low-paying job, and wanted a change.

Everything you do in business, from the marketing to the consultation to the education and connection, is selling. But selling is a cumbersome, sometimes never-ending process. Clients come back to choose their portraits and then there’s more selling, follow-through service, follow-up referrals, and then rinse and repeat! And if that isn’t hard enough, try doing all of that when you feel the pressure of a competitive industry and a whole lack of self-value. No wonder people quit; they get beaten down by wave after wave of non-creative challenges. 

The light for me was learning to receive money for my craft, to sell my work without feeling sick inside, to value my time and my product, and to create products that are easy to sell. In this industry, we are all faced with the same fears: rejection, being undervalued, shooting and burning, and not respecting your own craft. This is about finding the courage to face those fears and make a profitable portrait studio that you’re proud of.

“What led my transformation from a broke artist to a successful one is recognizing that I’m capable of selling my work. Teaching that thrills me!” says Bryce. 

Why are you excited about this topic?

SB: I have been lucky enough to mentor a group of photographers for three years now, and watching them adapt to the process of shooting, printing and selling is incredible. I am watching people build businesses, and then double and triple their sales! We think too often that the client drives the trend for product, but that is simply not true: the photographers do. What led my transformation from a broke artist to a successful one is recognizing that I’m capable of selling my work. Teaching that thrills me!

What do you hope photographers and filmmakers glean from your talk?

SB: I want you to make money, and I want you to sustain an income from your photography. I want you to fall in love with printing the way you fell in love with the darkroom way back when a print meant more than a downsized Facebook version of your creative mastery. I want you to fall back in love with making images, and to recognize that what you create will be priceless to a family for generations! You are more than a CD-burner. You are an artist and a craftsman and you stop time for people. When you raise your personal value, it will be reflected in your sales.

“I want you to fall in love with printing the way you fell in love with the darkroom way back when a print meant more than a downsized Facebook version of your creative mastery,” Bryce says.

What are you newly incorporating into your presentation that you may not have found to be as relevant before?

SB: Three years ago, I was watching the documentary The September Issue. There’s one scene where Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue, walks into the final edit room where the magazine’s September issue was displayed all along the wall on a light box. 

My brain exploded: What a great idea! Imagine a client walking into my studio, and there on a wall were all of her portraits edited, finished and beautifully lit. Nowadays I call it “The Reveal Wall,” and it’s become a practice that I often do for clients.

In this year’s presentation, I will show you how wedding and portrait photographers of all genres are transforming their sales by respecting their work. Clients appreciate that you value what you produce. Sell it with pride! Remember that these images are a legacy—they will outlive you—so start treating your craft with the respect it deserves.

Related: Editor's Pick: Victorian Grace by Sue Bryce

How to Price Your Photo Biz for Profit​

Sue Bryce on Building and Maintaining A Social Media Audience

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