Perfect the Art of Posing (Sue Bryce - Glamour Photography Part 3)

[Photo by Sue Bryce]

"At some point the thinking must stop and the action must start." Sue Bryce

In our 3rd and final post of the Sue Bryce Glamour Photography workshop on creativeLive, Sue talks about her Photoshop techniques and running a photography business. There were so many great snippets that I just summarized as best I could.

Photoshop - Two Minute Makeover

Sue's general philosophy on using Photoshop is to speed up the process so that it doesn't take up a lot of time. The goal is producing sellable images, not spending 2 hours on retouching each photo.

Some tips:
  • Work in button mode
  • Out of the 60-90 images you shoot in a session, choose 25-30. Spend 2 minutes retouching them, 1 hour for the entire batch.
  • Portraiture plugin ($200) for Photoshop smooths skin in a second
  • Erase layer to sharpen the eyes, hairline, and lips so that it looks natural
  • Adjust color curves
  • Use Clone tool to feather away fine lines and dark shadows under eyes
  • Use Lasso, copy/paste, Free Transform, and Warp tools to slim arms and tummy or boost bustlines and hair. To slim arm: using lasso tool, circle around most of the arm, leaving a small segment on the left side, copy/paste, which creates another layer. Ctrl (or Cmd) T for Free Transform, then right click and select Warp. Slightly drag in to slim arm. Then use erase tool at 10% to blend the edges. Flatten layer to finish (to save space). 
  • Use green color to tone down redness in the eyes.
  • Sue prefers Warp tool over Liquefy because it's much faster.
  • She also prefers Clone over Healing because it's faster.
  • She uses the same tools over and over and aims for speed, nothing fancy.

Running Your Photography Business

  • "Attitude of gratitude."
  • "What we vividly imagine, ardently design, & enthusiastically act upon must inevitably come to pass."
  • "Marketing should be the most creative part of your business."
  • What it comes down to is "talkability and story telling."
  • "My pictures had to tell a story."
  • "Prepare yourself for constant evolution. The one who survives is the one most adaptable to change."
  • "You cannot market a shit product. So if you're not yet at a sellable level, practice and build your portfolio."

[Photo by Sue Bryce]

What is your brand saying?

Find out what your product looks like to the outside world. Get a clear idea.

If you're not open to feedback and deem it as criticism, then you're not open to hearing what other people are thinking about your brand.

If you blog, blog to your clients, not other photographers. Blog about things your clients are interested in. The more you give away, the more you will build your community, and then will build your business.

Blog etiquette: 40% knowledge, 40% positive opinion, 10% personality, 10% self promotion. Blog twice a week.

Who are you clients and what do they want?

Sue answers the question of what women want: to look younger, gorgeous, and slimmer. They want to feel beautiful inside and out, respected, important. She knows why they are buying.

"Who are you trying to attract as a client?" Are you talking to one type of person or client? That's who you're speaking to. Then start expanding your brand to open it up to more clients using your original target market as a jumping off point.

Sue educates her clients and her market to come to her and buy from her. She creates stories and sells the experience.

She didn't put any babies or families on her website. She only portrayed the work that she wanted to attract.

How Sue Started

Eight years ago, Sue only made $400 a week. She didn't have a wealth mentality. She created a wage limit in her mind and was stuck. She learned that she never showed anyone her work because she didn't want to hear rejection. If they rejected her work then they rejected her, she thought.

However, she realized that there is no fear when she has nothing. Nothing can be be taken away because she had nothing.

So if she didn't show her work then nobody would ever know, and they're never going to like her and they're never going to pay her.

Sue sent letters and photographs to 10 local businesses. She asked them to give her services to their clients, but after they experienced her work for themselves. Five responded, all were women. One spent over $4000 because she brought her mom and sister. She learned women liked experiences and that giving away something will bring you back a reward. She gained recommendations from these 5 women and she ultimately gained 1200 clients.

Within one week she found 2 makeup artists to trained and gained a business partner. They set a goal to earn $4,000-6,000 a week, which they achieved in the first week. Five weeks later they were earning $12,000 a week.

After 1 year, she could no longer work in her garage studio and built one for $70,000. Her first year she grossed $480,000.

[Photo by Sue Bryce]
"Talent will get you far but not as far as ambition."

According to Sue, it didn't matter how much work she had in the first 4 months if she didn't learn how to make money and save it.

Businesses that survived the economic downturn had good marketing and money in the bank. As far as she's concerned, money is still there for you. Wealth does not go away, it just shifts.
Pricing and Creating Value

"Price is only an issue in the absence of value."

There are two types of photographers: one sets priced sitting fee with little or no photo sales, the other sets low sitting fees and a la carte pricing. The problem with #1 is that if you set a price, your client hears the cheapest of the packages. There is no value there. Sue herself changed her pricing to a la carte with a free shoot.

"A confused mind says no!"

She sees a la carte photographers list prices for all items, but there are too many numbers confuse people. Also, they neglect to sell the experience. Right from the start her sales pitch is to sell the entire package: do they have sisters? Families? Do they want to do a girls day out and get their makeup done and portraits taken?

Sue has also minimized her product options. She sells wall portraits that start at $275, folio boxes that start at $1200, and a 9 gallery frame. She simplified her products and cost, and clients are no longer confused.

"It does not matter which of these you choose. No client will spend...if they are not EDUCATED."

Many photographers after spending a day shooting have clients say, "I didn't know it was going to be that expensive."

Uneducated clients shouldn't have been there in the first place. "If you're afraid of saying what you cost, then you don't believe you're worth it. Until you change that mentality then you won't attract anyone into your business that believes the same."


From the moment someone calls she sells herself and experience. For example at a trade show she won't pitch. She'll talk to them like a woman: "I love your scarf." or "Tell me about your wedding." Practice your pitch; write it out. Then always work to book clients for the shoot.

She tells people what she loves doing. People are drawn to you when you're excited about what you do. They know it's not bullshit. Consumers know when something is fake.

You must also love what you do: "Do whatever spins your wheels. Until you're not spinning your wheels you are not actively participating in your own life. Being miserable is not a way of life. Change it anytime you want."
[Photo by Sue Bryce]


"Make goals for work, not money. The more you worry about not having money, the less you will manifest it. If you make a goal of money, then you'll cap yourself."

Instead, create a goal of a minimum number of shoots a week. Write it down and actively work towards your goal.

Sue's goal was to book 12 shoots a week. 48 shoots a month = 480 target audience monthly. Sue figured she would need to put her business in front of 480 people a month in order to fully book her studio. In her 2nd year she made $700,000; 3rd year $880,000.

On a scale of 1 to 10, rate your business on these factors:
  • brand
  • marketing
  • Photoshop
  • production (turnover)
  • shooting (skills)
  • sales
  • staff
  • money (management)
"Don't limit yourself. Opportunity is everywhere. If you don't see it you're going to let it go by."

Figure out average sale. Include the no- and low-sales to get an accurate figure.  Raise your average goal and figure out how to do that: create a product worth that price, speak to target market, offer sales and service that comes with that price.

If your client doesn't buy anything, you made one of these mistakes: 1) you didn't give her what she wanted 2) you didn't ask her what she wanted 3) you didn't listen to her when she told you what she wanted 4) you didn't educate her as to how much it was going to cost

"Shift your idea on value. Believe that you're worth it."


Stop looking at other people's websites and wondering why you're struggling. Go out actively market your business.

Stop trying to yell out your message to strangers. Start bringing in friends. Create any situation where you can talk to people about what you do

"Your network is your net worth." Tim Ferriss
You must have a database of customers that you can call up anytime and see if they want to schedule another shoot.

"It is not fear that is the problem but fear of taking action. Action counters stagnation. Take one brave step. As soon as you take a step forward the fear falls away and you are left with a feeling of power."

"At some point the thinking must stop and the action must start."

Educating your clients will sell your service.

Shut up and get out of the way. Don't down-sell. Stop talking and let client decide. If client goes quiet, it doesn't necessarily mean they are objecting. Don't jump into the silence and revise your price.
"The people who value their time and work make money."

Part 2 can be found here.

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