Crafting Value Through Visual Stories: Miranda Hayek Q&A
September 19, 2023
Lifestyle photographer Miranda Hayek says in all relationships, "connection boils down to honesty, trust and a bit of vulnerability." She approaches all her clients with this in mind and aims to help them feel seen and heard. Hayek says this approach results in images that exude a raw and potent authenticity. (Scroll through to see examples of Hayek's work.)
People value images that tell stories, and where value is perceived, money flows. Long Beach lifestyle photographer Miranda Hayek understands this truth deeply. Her photography journey began in the nonprofit sector, where she was quick to notice that grant proposals enriched with storytelling images yielded more substantial financial support than those without. Today, she continues to craft visual stories at her two studios Blue Blossom Photography, where she and her team create legacy fine art to last for generations and Blue Blossom Studios, where they offer marketing and branding photography and consultations that help professionals thrive in this increasingly digital and image-driven world.
Hayek recently sat down with Nikki Closser on The Portrait System Podcast, where she offered an expansive view of what kind of services a photography studio can offer to business professionals, including web design, logos, and coaching. She also strongly encouraged photographers to make use of video for themselves and their clients because consumers are increasingly seeking to work with companies that share their values and goals. Video is a potent way to communicate these things and help your clients feel like they know you before you ever get face to face. Hear the whole conversation.
In this Q&A, Hayek goes deeper into her personal journey, including how she made her biggest business breakthrough, advice for fellow photography entrepreneurs, how she makes strong client connections, and why succumbing to fear was never an option.
What has been your biggest breakthrough in business?
I would say understanding Value & IPS (in person sales).
What is your average sale currently?
Most artists have a point in their life when they knew this was meant for them. Do you have that moment?
Honestly, no. I see myself as a creative and edifier in life. (I always have.) Right now, I just happen to hold a camera. In my next life, I may sell tacos! 😂
How did you push past fear when building your business?
Fear is an interesting feeling for me. Given my life story, it has been a luxury feeling that, up until recently, I honestly couldn’t afford. My whole life has been about survival, and survival has depended on preparing for the worst and hoping for the best scenario in life. When I started my business in 2008, it was no different. I had just been laid off from a career job of 12 years at the start of a recession. I was pregnant with surrogate twins, going through a hard divorce, and a mother of two children under the age of four. So, one could say, I had no time for fear, I had to make it work!
Making a connection with your subject is one of the most important parts of a great portrait. How do you make lasting connections with your clients?
Like with any relationship, connection boils down to honesty, trust and a bit of vulnerability. Business is no different, in my book. I’ve learned that, as humans, we want to know what to expect and be heard and seen. I approach my clients from a place of serving those needs, and it’s truly remarkable what they will share with me that often has less to do with the portrait and more about what they are going through and what they need in that period of time in their life. As a result, the images I create from our time together contain a raw authenticity that surpasses props, backdrops, wardrobe, etc. For this, I’m truly grateful.
For someone starting out on their photography journey what advice would you have for them?
Look forward, not back or to the side, value your TIME because if you wait until you are ready, it will be a very long wait. Do what you love and don’t start off free or cheap, if you want to give of your time or “practice,” do it for a charitable cause of your choice. Separate your session fee from your product fees (yes, digitals are products), and show your work in person. You don’t need a studio, projectors or products, just you and a tablet/computer or phone even. Protect your family, your gear and your body. Get insured and work on the business side as much as you do the skill side of your business. Know your cost of doing business and invest in yourself more often than props or gear. Work every day on some aspect of your business (editing, camera skills, workflow, customer service, legal and financial stuff), and give yourself a scheduled day or two off, put it on your calendar and protect that time. Above all, create a community, do passion projects, and keep growing. 🙂
Do you regret any decisions you have made in your business?
I really regret not valuing myself and my time sooner. I also wish I would have started to show my work in person sooner. That single change in my business was monumental in growth and success.
Everyone has a favorite shoot. Tell us about yours and why it’s your favorite.
Oh boy! Don’t make me choose; it’s like asking me to choose my favorite child! 😂 Over the last 15 years I’ve had such beautiful experiences, some easier than others but all crucial to where I am today. My favorite session is always the most recent because I can only do the best I know in that moment and each session builds on the next. My latest session was of a woman who recently lost her father. She asked me to create something to honor their shared astrological signs (Pisces). I must admit, it was a bit out of my comfort zone, but the result was a composite of her dream world, and she LOVED it!
What fellow artists in the industry do you gain the most inspiration from?
At the risk of sounding cliche, Sue Bryce really does inspire me. I’ve been a fan of hers since before she moved to the U.S. Her personal and professional journey has been so beautiful to watch unfold. I love her heart for helping others, her love of art and her desire to always explore and grow. I feel honored that she has photographed my spouse and me. I cherish those photos, and I treasure the times I’ve had an opportunity to see her and give her an in-person hug. To me, it’s the person’s heart that matters most, and when it comes to humans, as we all know, she has a heart of God.
How has The Portrait System changed your life for the better?
The Portrait System did two things that really have changed my life:
- It nudged me to go bigger on reveals. I went from small prints to 8×10 matted prints, which I now believe are the gateway to printed art. It pushed my average sale of $1500 to over $3k consistently, and this one is a big one for me.
- I met my BFF, Julie Buckman through the Sue Bryce community. I’ve had many good friends in my life, but Julie is my sister. We talk every morning before starting our day and can’t imagine life without one another.
Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?
My goal for the next five years is to duplicate my studio work in remote locations. With our youngest child heading off to college this fall, our goal is to work remotely for three months out of the year in a new location each year. Thus far on the list: England, New Zealand, Canada, Pacific Northwest, Italy and Spain.