For the Love of Dance Photography: Whitney Collins Q&A
September 12, 2023
Whitney Collins was a schoolteacher before starting her photography business. For those just beginning, she says once you get your photo taking skills down, next you need to figure out how to price yourself. She says, "Pricing is not based off what you feel you’re worth. It’s based off real tangible numbers.” (Scroll through to see examples of Collins' fine art dance photography.)
Whitney Collins is a fine art dance photographer based in Savannah, Georgia, whose curiosity about photography was kindled when she got married and hired a wedding photographer. Not only was she impressed by the fee the photographer commanded, but she also got the opportunity to take a few shots herself and was immediately hooked. She started her business with a holiday shoot in a local park, but as a former dancer, soon gravitated toward dance photography. That was when her career took off.
She started a Facebook campaign called “For the Love of Dance,” which propelled her business forward. Now, she stays active in her local dance community as a sponsor of local dance events. Collins’ advice to photographers just starting out is to find three people who exemplify your ideal client and give them excellent service and photographs. From there, word will spread.
In the most recent round of The Portrait Masters Awards & Accreditation, Collins was the sole photographer to achieve the coveted Fellow accreditation, the highest level possible. She also had images place in the Black and White and Dance categories. You can see them in the Awards Gallery.
Find more business advice from Collins in the Q&A below, and hear her talk about her business on The Portrait System Podcast with host Nikki Closser.
What has been your biggest breakthrough in business?
That the actual art is not the most important element of your business. You can be THE BEST artist, but if you don’t know how to run a business, or you don’t believe in your own value, you won’t succeed.
How did you push past fear when building your business?
I realized that my fear stemmed from my own limitations and beliefs about myself. I also believe that sometimes you just have to do things scared. You can’t wait until the fear passes to take the next step. Each time you step through the fear, you gain confidence in your ability to do it again. I accepted that fear would always be present when I put myself out there, but that it didn’t have to paralyze me and prevent me from moving forward.
What has been your biggest accomplishment since starting The Portrait System?
Being able to leave my teaching job without going into debt. I am currently running a 6-figure dance photography studio and living life on my own terms.
For someone starting out on their photography journey what advice would you have for them?
Keep it simple. You don’t need a studio and fancy equipment to get started. It’s so easy to look at where others are in their journey and get impatient, but pace yourself! Like so many others, I started in a spare bedroom, and I worked my way up to industry-standard pricing in a low-risk environment. I had a full-time job, so I was never desperate to make money, and I think that made a huge difference.
How has The Portrait System changed your life for the better?
The self-value work has been the most life-changing in all areas of my life! I have always struggled with confidence and self-worth, and if it wasn’t for TPS, I don’t know that I would have believed in myself enough to start my business and leave teaching.
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.