Whitney Collins’ Successful Transition to Dance Photography
June 22, 2022
Retired school teacher Whitney Collins found her stride when she began photographing teenagers and dancers. Her love of dance portraiture necessitated her move to a larger studio where ballet dancers on pointe wouldn’t have to worry about hitting the ceiling. Now, she offers hour-long mini-sessions as introductions to her signature experience. (Scroll through for examples of her dance photography work.)
In this episode of The Portrait System Podcast, host Nikki Closser speaks with Savannah, Georgia, dance photographer Whitney Collins about her transition out of her 10-year career as a high school teacher to doing dance photography and building up her business to a $4,500 portrait sales average.
Like many portrait photographers, Collins became interested in photography after her wife Kim hired a photographer for their wedding. Collins was amazed at the fee their photographer commanded, and during a curious moment, she took a few shots herself and was hooked. That winter, Collins set up her Christmas tree in a local park and started her business with $75 holiday mini-shoots. After her first year, Collins discovered Sue Bryce Education (now The Portrait System), and re-evaluated her pricing based on her actual costs. After that, her portrait and dance photography brand began to take shape.
Collins says, “We all start at that place of: Am I good enough? Am I worth it? When you really look at your numbers, it doesn’t have anything to do with that. Of course, you have to be good enough to sell your work, but the pricing is not based off what you feel you’re worth. It’s based off real tangible numbers.”
Building a small business is a large endeavor, so Collins recommends approaching it in bite-sized pieces. Once photographers are comfortable with their photography abilities, then they can master their pricing. After that, comes marketing. Collins recommends finding three people who represent the kind of photos you want to take and providing them with great service and wonderful photographs. From there, word begins to spread. For Collins, creating Facebook ads for her dance campaign, For the Love of Dance, propelled her business forward, and she has continued being present in her community by supporting local dance events as a sponsor. You can learn more about Whitney Collins and her dance photography at Whitney Collins Fine Art Photography.
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.