Interview with
Jen Dean

Jen Dean | Owner & Professional Photographer
Jen Dean Photography


Q: Why did you start your business?

A: I began my business organically. I captured portraits as a hobby, and people began asking me to take portraits for their family. I grew it slowly over many years, and was patient with its growth because I didn’t want to go into debt. I started the business officially in 1999 with a website and business cards.

Q: What are some key factors or decisions that contributed to the success of your business?

A: Early on I paid attention to what other successful photographers were doing. I made changes as technology shifted. I went to all the workshops, seminars, webinars, and classes that I could that other well-known, successful photographers were offering. I learned about everything from posing and lighting to all aspects of running a business.

Q: What are some challenging aspects of your business?

A: There is a lot of competition. Everyone with a camera thinks they can be a "professional photographer." You must set yourself apart from the pack and stay on top of marketing at all times. You need to stay in front of people so they don’t forget about you. It's a constant commitment in time and energy.

Q: Do you feel you made any serious mistakes as you were starting or growing your business? Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?

A: I would have focused on the business side of my work much sooner. I was always an artist first. I didn’t understand that my profit margins weren’t high enough to really make a living for many years. I always had a second job until 2008 when I shifted my focus and learned how to run my passion as a profitable business. I also was not someone who liked to go out and network in-person. Once I decided to leave my home, meet people, and network, I got to know my community so much better. I love knowing people from businesses all over the city now. I have made all kinds of long lasting business relationships and friends. Networking has totally changed my business and helped it succeed at new levels.

Q: What other advice or words of inspiration would you like to share?

A: I think it’s easy to get discouraged when you are wearing all the hats in your business. The best thing you can do to grow yourself and your business is to invest in education and learn from the best in your particular industry. Get out and meet people! Ask how you can help them, not just ask them to hire you. Also, as soon as possible you should hire your own help to take care of the small tasks that you don’t have to be doing. Even if you just hire someone for 2-3 hours a week to help with invoicing and emails, it can make a huge difference in your bottom line.

About Jen Dean Photography

Getting to know people, hearing their stories, and showing them that I see how beautiful they are—that is my passion. Creating art for them to hang on their walls to remind them of the people in their life that matter most is a gift.

"You must set yourself apart from the pack and stay on top of marketing at all times. "—Jen Dean