Tropical Island Healing with Massage Therapy and Portraits
December 5, 2023
Tanya Maycock shoots on-location in Nassau, Bahamas, which has 12 months a year where she can shoot outside. Because of the heat and humidity, she looks for areas of open shade and tall ceilings. Her shooting kit is lightweight but replicates a studio experience, including two strobe lights, umbrellas, canvas backdrops, and of course, a reflector. (Scroll through to see examples of Maycock’s work.)
Anxiety and discomfort are common in portrait clients. Massage therapist and photographer Tanya Maycock has discovered that the skills she uses in massage can also help her understand how to alleviate discomfort for portrait clients. She recently spoke with The Portrait System Podcast host Nikki Closser about her two Nassau, Bahamas, businesses – massage therapy and portraits.
Maycock has been a massage therapist for many years. While she has also been a photographer, she didn’t start photographing people until a snowbird massage client asked her to take a Christmas family photo on the beach. When they shared the image with their friends and family back home, word began to spread, and Maycock began getting more requests to take family photos for visitors to the island.
When Maycock’s aging mother began to need more intensive care, Maycock decided to move more into photography and decrease her massage therapy hours. For her, photography gave her a creative outlet and an anchor where she could experience something purely joyful for herself. Because she charges industry standard prices, with an average sale around $3,000, she has been able to limit her massage sessions to only a few hours here and there, whereas she sees 4–5 portrait clients during the high season and 1–2 portrait clients in the off season.
Maycock says that being a massage therapist has made her a better photographer. Both are problem-solving services, where you are trying to help a client with a need and also heal something that is making them feel anxious or uncomfortable. Maycock says she accomplishes this through listening intently and observing. She encourages photographers to, “Listen more than you ask questions. Ask your questions, and then be quiet and listen . . . and listen with your eyes.” She always pays close attention to people’s body language because nonverbal communication is where connection comes from. Maycock says, “My energy, for lack of a better word, has to calm them down.”
Because she is so busy taking care of her mother and running two businesses, Maycock needs to be very intentional about what networking opportunities she takes part in. She attends one or two events per year, where she can set up a booth to offer Vanity Fair-style shoots for attendees dressed to the nines. It’s a great way to connect with individuals and also to make corporate contacts.
The Portrait System Podcast helps portrait photographers navigate the world of photography, business, money, and much more. Hosted by Nikki Closser, the podcast is powered by The Portrait System, a comprehensive, online educational platform that teaches all aspects of running a successful portrait photography studio. If you’d like to be a guest on The Portrait System Podcast, send them a voice message.