How to book more clients by just being yourself with Brittnie Renee Photography

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How you Pictured It Episode 29 Cover Art How to book more clients just by being yourself with Brittnie Renee Photography

Learn how deleting her Instagram account helped Brittnie reach 6 figures in her photography business. 

We talk about:

  •  being authentic in your photography business and showing up as yourself. 
  • boundaries between vulnerability and getting too personal
  • building a brand
  • doing what you love to avoid burnout
  • connecting with clients

Find Brittnie at
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About Kate Hejde

Kate Hejde is the host and creator of How You Pictured It Podcast and Dear Kate Brand Strategy. She helps photographers and creative entrepreneurs create a profitable business that fits into their lives. With over 10 years of experience running her own photography business, while raising three kids, Kate believes that business is not one size fits all and that you define your own success.  Kate teaches through her podcast as well as through courses, group coaching, and 1:1 mentoring and offers done-for-you Showit websites. 

Check out Kate Online: Website | Instagram | Tiktok | Pinterest



Welcome back to how you pictured it. This is Kate Hyde with dear Kate brand strategy, and I am so excited to welcome our guests today, Brittany of Brittany Renee photo. Brittany is a photographer based in Texas. She also does some coaching for other photographers and has a podcast as well called captured the chaos. We met through the show at user group and found that we really did have a lot in common and enjoy chatting with each other. I’m excited to share a little bit of her story here with you today.Kate: 0:38

Brittnie, why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself to our listenBrittnie: 0:42

hello, my name is Brittnie. I have been a photographer since 2009. I dunno how many years that is. So I’m not even gonna try to do the math. Uh, I am a little different than some other family photographers cuz I started family photography before I ever had kids, which is kind of weird looking back. I have three kids, uh, Jackson, Noah, and Finley. Um, and I’m married. I live in Texas and I also, just like Kate started coaching in 2020 when things were really crazy and it kind of felt like a blur. Um, and here we are now,Kate: 1:19

Okay. That’s exciting. Um, so what’s your favorite thing to shoot?Brittnie: 1:24

I love photographing babies. That is my favorite thing specifically in-home lifestyle sessions is kind of where my heart lies.Kate: 1:32

Okay, awesome. Yeah. Awesome. All right. Um, so let’s see. How did you picture your life as a business owner when you first started? What does that look like now?Brittnie: 1:42

Well, when I first started, I didn’t even realize I. Was doing a business, honestly. Um, I just, I saw another girl taking photos, um, and I was like, I can do that And now I naively just jump, got a camera and kind of jumped into it and started taking photos and it kind of grew over time. Um, and I just never really thought of it as being like something that. Could support me and my family. Um, I just thought it was cool to make a few extra dollars, you know, like that just absolutely had no dreams for it. Um, but then I started looking around and noticed there’s a lot of successful photographers, and I was like, what do they have that I don’t, they don’t have anything that I don’t actually, so, Then I really put my mind to it and I started going after it and educating myself on all things business and really kinda looking at myself and like where I wanted to go and actually setting goals and achieving those goals. And so really where I started, how many years ago is this? Like over 10 years ago is nothing. I never would’ve expected to see what I have now. Like it’s just like mind blowing to.Kate: 2:53

I love that. So tell me, w were you working like a full-time job at the time when you started photography?Brittnie: 3:00

Well, we’re gonna get to some really personal things here that I don’t actually share very often, but you have, you have to know the backstory. Yeah. So I was married when I was 19. He was in the military. I moved to Hawaii. I couldn’t get a job when I was in Hawaii, so I just started taking pictures of other military families. Um, and then I came home. I did it a little bit, but then I was in college so I didn’t have a whole lot of time cause I was supporting. Paying for, um, myself to go to college. So I was working a part-time job. I would do it every once in a while and I charged $50. So it’s not like it was making any money. Yeah. And then it was when I was pregnant with my first son, I did my first round of mini sessions. I was eight months pregnant. Oh, wow. And I did mini sessions. Yeah. And I had a full-time job, so I couldn’t really put my effort into it. It was a weekend job too, so there just wasn’t a lot of time that I could put towards photography. Yeah. Um, and then, when I got pregnant. My second is whenever I quit and things just started like blowing up cuz I had weekends to actually give to photography and it’s kind of evolved since then.Kate: 4:00

Yeah, I love that. That’s a great story. I love hearing how different people come to photography and how it like turns into a business because. most of us don’t pick up a camera and think I’m gonna start a business. Yeah. Right. I, I mean, yeah. I, I was one of those people who had a camera in my hand since I was little. Mm-hmm. And even when I had like the dream of being a business owner, I didn’t know it was gonna be photography. So it was like, yeah,Brittnie: 4:26

it’s like, That’s a real business. Like that makes money. What?Kate: 4:30

Yeah. Yeah, yeah. It’s crazy, isn’t it? So tell me about a time in your business where you felt like at a crossroads and how you made changes in decisions, based on that.Brittnie: 4:43

So I can’t tell you very many times in my life where I’ve actually had a moment of I, there’s two, two moments in my life where I’ve had a crossroads. One was when I married the wrong person, um, and I didn’t choose my now husband. Uh, which is funny cuz I ended up. Marrying my husband after I chose the wrong guy. I mean, I can share that part with you cuz I told you about my, my past, my past life when I was younger. So that was my first crossroad in life. Okay. And then I’ve only had one other moment of like actual crossroads and that was, Social media, which is kinda sounds really weird, but I had an Instagram account and I had had it since 2016. Um, maybe I had a little longer. I think I had a personal one before that, I’m not sure. But Instagram was still like relatively new, right? Like it wasn’t super, you know, it’s not like what it is now. Yeah. And I think I had like 900 followers on it, maybe a thousand. And I realized I had all these bought followers and I just wasn’t getting a lot of engagement and. This moment clicked in my head and I was like, this is not what I want. I want to be able to like connect with people and I wanna build relationships with. And so everything kind of started changing. I deleted that social media account. I said, Hey everyone, I’m going to a new social media, which I don’t advise doing. I think that you can do what I did without deleting your social media account. But I was doing an experiment here, so I deleted, I started a new one, and within six months I had just as many followers as I did before, but my engagement was like 30%, which on Instagram is really high. That’s great. High. It had been 4% before. Yeah, it was great. It’s not that high. All those different algorithm changes in the last few years have kind of tanked that, but that’s okay. We, we don’t mind that. Um, so I started a new Instagram account and I, my whole goal was just to be authentic and be open, share my life, just be who I was, you know, like messy, messy, messy, everything. Um, I’m very chaotic. Um, my brain’s very chaotic. I don’t know if you can tell that by the way I talk. I jump around a lot. Um, everything I say has to usually be written down, uh, So I just like wanted to let people into this and that. Once I started doing that, things just started growing. People were really interested in me as a person, which was really weird. I’m like, you like me? Like so bizarre to me to think that people actually liked who I was and I got a lot of people would come to my sessions and they’re like, oh my gosh, I really love watching your stories. Or I love, oh, that Noah did this the other day. My kids just the same way. Um, I’ve had people who said, they’re like, well, I liked your photos, but I really liked your, your Instagram stories and I wanted to work with you. And I was like, this is crazy. Yeah. I kinda started seeing that me being who I was, started actually my clientele like exploded. After that, I started getting people who wanted to work with me, people who liked me for me, like just, I mean, it was, it was going off is what was happening. It was really cool to see.Kate: 7:43

That’s awesome. So it was really a switch to being more authentic and more you in your, um, presence online and sharing. Mm-hmm. more about like your personal life and yourself and how you view things. Right?Brittnie: 7:56

Right, exactly.Kate: 7:58

That’s very cool. How do you weave that authenticity into your business? Is it in your marketing client relationships?Brittnie: 8:06

Well, like I said, it started with Instagram cause that’s just kind of where I was spending my time. And so once I kind of got comfortable doing it there, I started including it in my, client experience. I changed all my emails. I made them a lot more. Relaxed, more friendly. Um, but like, Hey, I know your kids are crazy. It’s totally fine. Um, my kids are crazy too. I get it. Like, I call my kids animals. Um, in my email templates, I, I say, you know, give your, give your husband a beer before, before the session. Kind of loosen ’em up, you know, and just I try to be like their friend, you know? Yeah. And then after the session, we’re friends, like we talk, I follow them on Instgram. I used to not follow clients on social media. Oh. You know, I’ve been around a long time. It was very professional when we first started, right? Yes. There was like this different feel and I was like, oh, I don’t want them to seeing my personal life. And so, you know, when I opened that up, I just started being friends with them. And you might think that when your clients are your friends, they might start taking advantage of you. But I haven’t had that experience, um, which is nice. And then once I kind of started, including in my emails, it grew to my website, I made my website match my brand. Actually I did that last year, um, because I went on an overhaul. I did show it from my website cuz it was a lot more, I was on pixie set before and, you know, pixie set’s very white. Yes. Um, and I wanted color and I wanted like an explosion of. Chaos and switch to show it.Kate: 9:28

So I’m gonna show it designer. So I totally like getBrittnie: 9:31

that. I understand that when, if you’re doing it yourself or you’re doing it for the very first time, it is really overwhelming going on to show it. Yeah. And it’s like, I like to say remove the barriers. So if you need to go with pixie sets, cause it’s super easy, but if you want personality, go with, show it. Yeah. Yeah. And so every, every bit of, every bit of my business is. authentic, and I try not to do things the way other people do it. I do it how I want to do it. Um, what feels good to me.Kate: 10:03

Are there things that you hold back on your Instagram, how do you kind of like set those boundaries for yourself and set like apart what your, your business personality authenticity is and like what your true self is. I feel like there’s gotta be some kind of a, a breakdown or a barrier there, right?Brittnie: 10:21

Oh yeah, absolutely. Um, um, I don’t show like the really terrible sides of my life. Like we get to choose what we share even when we’re being authentic. Like I am authentically open about my house being messy. Like I show you all my stories all the time, like that I have chaos in my house. But what I’m not gonna show you is, um, Me yelling at my kids. I mean, I tell you, I do yell at my kids mom, record myself yelling at my kids. You know what I mean? Yeah. Or like I, you know, I have family drama going on right now. I’m not gonna get on and talk about that. I rarely ever talk about my past marriage. Um, which is funny that I’m like talking all about it right now, but it’s not something I usually share. Yeah. Um, so whenever I reach out to clients, I have, I’ve had some that have gone through like divorces and I reach, I’m like, Hey, I went through this. I understand. And they’re like, I didn’t know that about you. I’m like, it’s not something I share. It’s like, I don’t share emotional trauma because, you know, I try to keep things upbeat, but I, I, so I have a line, it’s like I don’t share emotions, but I’ll share chaos. Yeah. Does that makeKate: 11:22

sense, Yeah, totally. Totally. I get that. Um, yeah, I, I felt in the past that kind of feeling like you had to put off that professional persona. Mm-hmm. um, especially when I was new in business and young and I wanted to like be like this big like professional person. I felt like I had to use this professional language and it sounded nothing like me. And like finding that kind of, Mm. That, that groove of getting into who you are and still like you can still sound like a business owner and a professional. Yeah. And a service provider without like saying to whom it may concern or, you know,Brittnie: 12:03

How many times have I actually thought, oh, I have said that in emails and I’m like, this is weird.Kate: 12:08

Yeah, it is weird. So yeah,Brittnie: 12:10

the people are more. If you think about like the, the, the moments that we are invited to people’s lives, we’re invited into hospital rooms when people are giving births, um, people getting married like the most important day of their lives. We are sometimes the first people that get to hold someone else’s baby after they leave the hospital. Um, just these like special memories that they’re holding onto. Yeah. Like if you think about how important we are, like. If you do it right, you can be like literally kind of just become a part of this, be these people’s families. They’re like, oh yes, that’s my photographer. They are mine. You know, I’m not gonna go anyone else. I feel like I’m treating, if anything, our job is really important and it’s very personal. Why would someone want to go to like a corporate, like real dry, five day old piece of toast kind of person? They want someone who they can be friends with right?Kate: 12:58

Yeah. Yeah. It’s an intimate relationship. So it’s finding that kind of line of between like Mm. Boundaries for sure. I feel like boundaries are super important. Yeah. Um, but then also like being part of their family and being vulnerable with them. Mm-hmm. um, can be super important. I know I’ve. I had a client recently who lost her dad this year. I lost my dad this year, and that session was hard for both of us. Yeah. Um, but because it was an extended family session, we did like the whole family and her dad wasn’t there. It was hard. Yeah. And she brought out the picture. We took a picture of them holding a picture of her dad and like tears through the whole thing. But the, but being able to be with people in that moment and helping them. Helping them grieve. Mm-hmm. like that was a big thing for me, helping her move through this. And it helped me move through it too. So that’s like, yeah. That authenticity and being honest with people can really, um, really build that connection. And I feel like that shows through your photo, your photos and your work too. Yeah,Brittnie: 14:05

absolutely.Kate: 14:07

So what growth have you seen from really bringing that authenticity into your marketing, your brand? What, what changes have you seenBrittnie: 14:18

along with starting to be more open and authentic? I also. I stopped doing sessions that I didn’t enjoy anymore. Um, and so I went, I, I, I experience a lot less burnout now. Like in the fall. Yes, I get really busy. Um, not this past fall, but the fall before last. I did 80 something sessions in one month. Oh my gosh. Some of ’em are many sessions. So that’s a lot. Right. That’s a lot of sessions. And, and I managed to do it while keeping my brand intact because automation, well, we’re not gonna get into automation today, but big fan, big fan of automation. Yeah, same. So I stopped doing things that didn’t make me happy, and so one, burnout is a lot lower. Two people, I’m connecting with them more about, you know, my family sessions have grown, my newborn sessions have grown. Things just have gotten better because I stopped focusing time on things that I didn’t find joy in. Um, And then along with that, you know, being more authentic, like I said, all these things kind of just happened. You can’t just go in and reran yourself. You can’t just go in and work on marketing. You can’t just find your ideal client. All this stuff is like interconnected, right? Yes. And so me. Weaving authenticity into my brand also kind of seeped into my marketing and it seeped into my branding and just seeped in everything. Everything was just all interconnected, and so that’s when I went from, I think in 2019, I made $20,000. In 2020 I made. 46, something like that, thousand dollars. So I doubled, and then the next year I doubled again. And then this year I broke six figures for the first time. And that all happened when I started being authentic, when I started weaving authenticity into my brand, into my marketing and all that. Yeah. So I just think that. one. Putting that heart into it. Yes, kind of. And also the bus putting business mind into it. It’s not just, I became authentic and everyone loved me and they booked me. I mean, like, I also went at it with a business mind. Right. You know? And so all of these things together grew this something I just never really would’ve ever could’ve expected.Kate: 16:25

Yeah. I, I, and honestly, everything that you’re saying really ties into a lot of what we talk about here on the podcast about finding your zone of genius and leading into what brings you joy. And finding ways to automate and outsource and delegate things that are like, and even eliminate things that are not for you. So like eliminating those types of sessions that didn’t fit you, made it easier for you to clarify who you were mm-hmm. and put that out into the world. And I love that that’s,Brittnie: 16:51

When I work with, work with photographers, I hate, I hate, they’re like, oh, I, I need to work on my marketing. I’m like, you do need to work on your marketing, but you also need to work on your branding, but also to work on your branding. You need to work on your ideal client, but also you need to work on, you know, it’s just like, it’s like you can’t do one without the other So yeah, it’s absolutely like just so connected,17:09

aKate: 17:09

big. Vinn diagram, right? Yes. Like everybody ties into theBrittnie: 17:13

other little spiderwebs going everywhere. Yes, yes,Kate: 17:15

yes. Give me that mind map. I love those things.Brittnie: 17:18

I love a good mind map,Kate: 17:20

So can you give our listeners some tips on how to be authentic in their own businesses?Brittnie: 17:26

That’s a really hard thing to give tips on. So I’ll just kind of tell you how I started, um, little baby steps cuz it’s really scary to kind of put your heart out there. I know that I’m not the only one that feels like kind of unworthy sometimes. Like people, why, why would anyone wanna be my friend? Why would anyone wanna work with me? Right? Like, I know I can’t be the only one that feels like that. And so it can be really scary to open yourself up to um, open up yourself up, especially open yourself up on the internet to people. But the very first thing that I ever did was when I got on Instagram, I wanted to start talking to the camera. You. and I know there’s people out there that are terrified of doing that, and that’s one big thing to kind of. Show who you are by doing that. So what I had to do, I had to write down notes. Um, and I got out and I was like, okay, I’m just getting on for 20 seconds and I’m gonna say these notes. And I did that and I practiced it and I practiced it and I practiced it and I kept doing it. I did it every so often and then it got more comfortable and I was able to hop on and just blabber out a story. And then I would get feedback and people would be like, oh, I love that what you said. And I started getting more feedback, being open and, and messy. You know who I was? Yeah. Than I did when I was being like cookie cutter dry. Yeah. And so just kind. pick one thing that you’re comfortable sharing, whatever that one thing is, and just start there. Um, and if you’re afraid of people, maybe like your family or like friends who are like, Ooh, you’re, you’re dumb you’re afraid of what they’re gonna say. First of all, remember that they’re probably not your ideal client. Um, family very rarely is someone that I, you actually want to work with. Um, they kind of take advantage of you a lot of the times, uh, because you’re family. So you block them. Um, or just don’t worry if you, if you can, don’t worry about what they’re saying. I know it’s hard. Easier said than them. Just don’t worry about it. Block ’em if you need to. And just remember that you’re not talking to them, you’re talking to your future client B F F. Yeah. IfKate: 19:25

that helps. Yeah. Yeah. Well, funny story. I started on TikTok a couple of years ago and no one I knew followed me there and it made it so much easier.Brittnie: 19:37

HowKate: 19:37

easy? Yeah. To, to really like be myself and to, to grow that mm-hmm. like channel and, and then I could translate that over into Instagram. So that’s a way to kind of practice too. Um, yeah. Those more get onto aBrittnie: 19:53

different,Kate: 19:53

yeah. Yeah. More authentic interactions.Brittnie: 19:56

Going off what you said, I’m like, where you’re on TikTok and no one followed you. I went to a retreat over the summer and have you ever heard of unravel? Uh huh Okay. If you ever get a chance to go on one of the retreats, so good. Go alone though. Don’t go with a friend, because it’s very, they get very emotional and I was like, Ooh. Emotions. I don’t know about that. Um, but I went with a friend and so I felt like, Nervous to open up. Yeah. And say things that maybe if she wasn’t there, I would’ve been more comfortable saying, cuz I don’t know any of them. Like yeah, I don’t care if they judge me. You know what I mean? Right. So same, same thing. Yeah.Kate: 20:30

That’s interesting. When you made the switch to the new Instagram account, did you like on the old Instagram account practice things beforehand or like, did you kind of like slowly make the switch? Or was it just like, I am not like deadBrittnie: 20:43

cut. One day I woke up, I woke up, I’m starting a new Instagram, like I jump into things. Okay. Which sometimes is good and sometimes it’s bad But I, I literally was like, Hey, I’m starting a new Instagram account. I swear it’s me. And then all I ever posted on my old one was, this is my, I, I’ve moved, I’ve moved, I’ve moved. Okay. So, and just until everyone that wanted to, wanted to, to move over, yeah, that was good. Because all the people who didn’t care aren’t, weren’t seeing. Right. Come over and it made it a little easier. Yeah. Yeah. And so I started open Scary. Yeah. And if, if, if anyone’s interested in it, they can find my Instagram. I have a, a highlight reel on my, um, on my Instagram. It’s called Social. And I literally, like the whole first year, I kind of give updates about what’s happening. I, I started with why I did it, and then how three months is going, six months, so on and so forth. And I love that. Yeah. You should turn that into a reel. if I can figure that out, like I’m, yeah. Not as tech savvy as I like to pretend like I am.Kate: 21:45

Yeah. Um, Brittnie, how can people find you? How can people work with you?Brittnie: 21:51

Um, I am on Instagram obviously. I also have a podcast called Capture the Chaos. Um, and I have a Facebook community where I just connect with people. I’m starting this new thing called Monday Mingle. Kate, you’re invited. Um, yay. There’s absolutely. What I wanted to do is I just wanted to connect with people. I wanted us to get to chance. Cause we don’t have coworkers as photographers, right? So just to get on and like, we can vent, we can talk about what’s going on, like what you’re working on, you know, people who can commiserate and understand what you’re going through. So that’s my newest thing that I’m working on. It’s gonna be open to anyone who wants to join. It might be a hot mess the first time. we will figure it out.Kate: 22:32

So that’s fun. I love that. I definitely, I feel like, uh, community is something that’s hard to come by as a solopreneur and finding the right community for you. But it’s so important because even though you’re a solopreneur, you don’t have to do this alone at all. Right? Like, yeah, that’s. Not the point. You we’re never, we were never meant to be alone. So I think it’s so important to find those right people and connect, which I have loved doing with you, Brittnie. I think we have so much in common. It’s been fun chatting with you. I will put links for all of your stuff in the show notes. Um, and thank you again so much for joining me.Brittnie: 23:05

Thank you so much for having me.23:07

I’m excited to be bringing more guest interviews to how you pictured it for 2023. I love talking to different photographers and people across different industries to see how they’ve built their business to fit their life. There’s so much we can learn from each other. Who do you want to hear from. Send me a DM on Instagram at dear Kate brand strategy with your suggestions. Can’t wait to talk to you soon. Bye.

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