Isn’t it exhausting for creative women in entrepreneurship?
I mean - there are ALL the THINGS to do - which makes it hard to find joy in what we do.
So, let’s discuss how we can LOVE 💗 our businesses more -
Part of what kept me from becoming an entrepreneur & loving my business was needing to be visible & seen. I didn't want people to see who I was or what I looked like.
Once I got allowed myself to be visible - with the help of an incredible & supportive photographer, my business changed PLUS the level 📈 of confidence I have.
This is why I’m EXCITED to bring to you today's guest, my brand photographer 📸 (and friend) @Alice Patterson.
Alice helps women entrepreneurs with their branding AND helps them love their business MORE through photography and through her new business - Loving My Company.
Connect with Alice on Facebook @AliceGPattersonPhotography, Instagram @alicegpatterson and @lovingmycompany, along with her website https://www.agpphoto.com/
Jen: Hello. Hello. Welcome to today's interview. I'm really excited to bring you today's guest. This is my photographer. She's my brand photographer, Alice Patterson, and she changed my life, and she changed my business. And I really know that she knows how much she did this to me, but I'm having her on today because what she does in her business is she helps women entrepreneurs with their branding, love their business more. And in fact, she actually learned how to scale her business and created a whole other spoke of her business called Loving My Company.
So she's a brand photographer, and she's going to you all about what she does. All month, we have been talking about how we can love our businesses more, because as creative women in entrepreneurship, it can be exhausting to do all the things with all the details and, Alice and I talk about this a lot in our personal life. But I want to preface today's interview by saying I would say that in probably up to 2017 when I did my first set of branding photos with Alice, I hated the way I looked in photos. I hated myself.
Part of what kept me from becoming an entrepreneur for a time was needing to be visible and seen. And I didn't want people to see me. And my work with Alice in our relationship as client and photographer has completely changed my business but it's also changed the level of confidence that Ihave. And I that what she's doing can help you. So I wanted to welcome her warmly and say thank you so much for having this conversation with me today, Alice
Alice: Oh, thank you. I'm so excited to be here. And I feel like I say literally, like, all those things right back at you.
I need you as much as you need me.
Jen: Yes. I definitely need you.
And the other thing I to say before I get into this conversation with you is, you know, that the first time I did my branding photos, I sat on those photos for almost a year before I put them out into the world because it was terrifying.
Alice: You’re not alone in that, unfortunately.
Jen: That's why I wanted to have this conversation because anybody who's listening because I want people to know that photos are a scary part of our business and being visible is scary. And you and I both have been there personally, so I wanted to preface the conversation with that.
Alice: Yeah, absolutely.
Jen: So Let's get started with talking about how you help women basically love their businesses more. So tell us about where are you were in your business and kind of you realized and what you had to create in your business so that you could love your own company a bit more.
Alice: So I've been a brand photographer helping specifically creative women entrepreneurs with all of their image needs. So whether that's a headshot or product photography. Anything for their website that they need, so all the things for their business. And I found that a lot of the women were just sort of wanting more people in their photos. And so this is kind of where this new idea came from with Loving My Company. And I think we'll talk about that a bit more. But then personally, in my own business, I was kind of doing a lot of different things. Brand photography was my main focus, but I was still kind of doing family portraits and senior portraits.
Pretty much anything anybody came at me with, although given up...I had done weddings for a time, and I finally pulled the plug on that.
Alice: So I needed to kind of refocus my business as well as help the women that I working with.
Jen: I think that your struggle at that moment where you were like, “I'm doing everything. I'm actually good at a lot of things. I'm doing a lot of things, but it's stressful.” And it makes you feel so kind of wired and stretched, like, taffy. That's how I feel when I'm doing a lot of different things. Is that what you were struggling with, too?
Alice: Yeah. Absolutely. And I like you think, “Oh, I can do that. That's an easy thing I can do. And it'll bring in a little extra money. Sure. I'm going to do that.” But then when you get right down to it, it's extra administration. I have to tweak this contract to say what this client is getting, or I have to, you know, create an entirely new invoice template or whatever it is that the changes are, there's a lot of administrative stuff that goes with that.
Jen: I didn't even think about that.
Alice: Yeah. Your time. What is it that you say?
Jen: You spend your time, your money, or your energy? Yeah, you’re always going to spend something.
That's a good point. So you were hearing from your clients that they wanted, like, extra people to be in their branding photos so that it looks like they were having conversations.
Alice: Yeah. So logistically that was just really hard to do. So I would say, sure, we can do that. And then they would ask their friends or their clients or their sister. And then it was like, their schedule, my schedule, friend schedule. It's hard enough to get two people, you know, on the same date. So logistically - almost never worked out.
So that's kind of where this idea of creating a membership where entrepreneurs sort of crowdsourcing model for each other.
Jen: Can you talk about what that actually means and how that really works in real life?
Alice: Yeah. So I'll just kind of say what Loving My Company is.
So it's a monthly membership or it's a membership with monthly photo sessions. And I find a location for the photo sessions each month, and the women just have they just bring about three outfits and they're ready to be photographed.
And I've got the whole thing set up so they can do interactive photos, and that's where we go back to what we just talking about with a sort of crowdsourcing modeling. So if I'm photographing over the shoulder of one person that I'm focused on you, you see that you're interacting and that person is sort of the perceived client or friend in your photo for your audience member.
Jen: I remember the first time you told me about it. Actually, you told me about it in front of a of people, and everybody was like, this is a brilliant idea. It was amazing.
Alice: Yeah. That was very exciting for me to have so many people, like, audibly excited.
Jen: The idea had been rattling around in your head for a while. Right?
Alice: Yeah, it was.
And I have lots of ideas and I rarely speak them. And so it was very exciting for me to have the nerve to talk about it and to have such a response and then really having your support because you were sort of the instigator like, “Let's run with this, Alice.”
Jen: Let’s make it happen!
Alice: And you helped me get those first two beta sessions.
Alice: In one day that I think sold out, like, within 24 hours.
Jen: Yep. It's so funny for me ask you this because I'm part of it and I know-how. But I'm really trying to paint the picture for everybody else listening because it's such a great idea. And it's such a changer in somebody's business to have photos every single month, like, professional photos, and then you're interacting in the photo. So you're not, like, stiff and stilted, and feel weird.
But what do you focus on? What have you learned to focus on in these sessions to help people feel more confident and comfortable?
Alice: Yeah Just in that sense, I'm like… Oh, there’s so many things to talk about.
Jen: Let’s talk about them.
Alice: I definitely focus on individual portraits. I think that those are always going to people’s kind of go-to photos, and they're very important.
People want to see your face. They want to know who they're doing business with. But I think that when you add other people into the photo, it builds that know, like, and trust factor because they see you with other humans having a good time.
Some clients are all about, like, “Oh, Let's laugh.” And others have more serious topics. We can cover different moods, I guess that is what I'm trying to say.
Jen: Yeah, that’s a good way to say it.
Alice: And then just having the different scenery, the different locations really adds just a great variety into your social media marketing where it's not just your office over and over and over and over again. Or your living room wherever you can take a selfie because we don’t live in a bubble. I mean we did for the last year but in normal life. In the BeforeTimes and hopefully, in the future time, we don't live in a bubble, right?
There’s a lot of people that talk about how brand photography has to be very specific to, exactly you. And only you. And I think that that’s important and every member gets an individualized brand photo session.
But I think that I’m trying to create this awareness that there is more than just your brand, just your specific, like your specific qualities and interests. That people want to see, that you interact well with others, that you play well with others. That you get out in the world.
So that's what I think some of the magic is.
And then also for the people that don't like to be photographed, being in a group setting, it can feel a little awkward, especially if you're an introvert.
I always joke like it's sort of like a date when you first show up But the reality is that it's a very warm group. Everybody is there with kind of like-minded intentions. They can really help make it more enjoyable and can lighten the mood and make it easier to laugh and have a time.
Jen: Yeah. And there's something you say. You always say. “I try to capture, like, who you are rather than just what you do.” And you hinted at that before, because when you're in a group of people and you're getting your picture taken and you laugh or you do something stupid or something feels really awkward...there's plenty of times where I'm having an awkward moment and I'll just laugh about it, you can capture that.
And I could never generate that in our one-on-one branding session, so I think these are just so valuable.
Alice: Thank you. Yeah. Absolutely.
I'm glad you brought that up, because it is part of my messaging. It's really about who you are and not just what you do.
So what I to talk about today is how getting these pictures of ourselves, and we can talk a bit more about who exactly the type of person this is for, but how getting pictures of ourselves on the regular could help us love our businesses. And I'm just curious, what are your thoughts about that? Like, the name of this brand is Loving My Company. That's what this spoke of your business is.
So when I thinking about my theme for this month, which is how can we love our businesses more. It's so tiring to be a solopreneur and a creative woman. And when you're working your business, there's all of like, frigging, pain in the ass things that we have to do, and it never ends, and it can wear us down. And so when I thought about who can I to about loving my business, I'm like, “Oh, Alice has Loving My Company. She’s like the perfect person.”
How has starting the Loving My Company brand helped you love your business more?
Alice: So for me personally, it's been great because a lot of photographers struggle with this. I call it sort of the feast or famine, roller-coaster cycle, income cycle.
So you're really busy for a month and you're just getting bombarded with work and then it just dips down and you're in the valley of no work, no income.
So for me, this has provided.... well, it's increased my revenue, but it's also more evenly dispersed throughout the year. So I don’t have those lows anymore. I'm, like, more even going around the race track.
Jen: So, there's not like that panic. I'm so overloaded with work. And then, like, I nothing to for several months.
Alice: Yes. It's been really life-changing for me in that way.
The name Loving My Company came from this idea of sort of self-love for your business. If you're not getting yourself photographs, if you're using 10-year-old photographs, you're not giving your business the love that it needs. Right?
And these days, there's just such a high demand for content. The people that are really making a difference and being seen are putting out content regularly. And so, again, that's kind of self-love for your business right. by taking this burden off of yourself. Like, not having to create images every day. But, come and get them done in a batch and then have fresh, seasonal images that aren't just in the summertime.
Like, where we live, there are four seasons. So you get images that show when it's snowing, and you get images that show when it's like a summer day. And we do holiday themes. And so you really get a lot that way. But then also the sort of double meaning with the name is the company that you keep in the membership. Right? So you're giving your own business love. But then you're also loving the company of the membership because there is sort of built-in networking that's going on. There are resources. People are talking. It's very interactive when the members are not in front of the camera. So if I'm photographing one member and the other members are kind of the wings waiting, there's a lot of talking going on. And a lot of exchange, people are talking shop. They're talking life, work balance, kids being in quarantine with their husbands, whatever it is.
And so that was sort of the double meaning for me when I named the business. It's self-love for your business. But then you also end up kind of loving this woman you’re with.
Jen: Yeah. And so I just want to speak to this a bit, because I've actually been hired by some of women in the group, and I've hired them, and I use their services. And so it just expanded my circle.
Also as an entrepreneur who works from home and talks to people via a computer all day long. It's so fun to go in person again and be with people. Now, in the before times, we could interact a lot more. And now with the COVID protocols, there's less interaction, but it's still safe. But there's still interaction again. And for somebody like me....Oh, my God I've been craving that.
So, yes, I enjoy the actual times that were on set together.
Alice: Yeah. Yeah. Definitely trying to keep it COVID safe. But I think that that's just a huge element that is very unique to this business model.
Jen: I want to bring up something else. I've chatted with you about this a little bit before, and I mentioned it at the beginning of the conversation. When I had my first one, I will never forget it. It was April 2017. I had my first branding session with you. I had started my business.
I come from another business where I didn’t have to put myself out there a lot. I had to put my customers out there a lot. It was a fitness studio. But when I launching my own business, I'm like, actually, you said to me several times, people need to see your face. And I hiding behind stock photos and visuals that I would have an assistant make for me. And they were great, but you said over and over, people need to see your face.
And I'm like, “Nobody wants to see me, Alice. Nobody wants to see my face. Nobody wants to see my face.”
I did it and I took those pictures, and I sat on them for so long. And they weren't because they weren't beautiful pictures. I just couldn't see myself in that way.
And when I put them out there, the love that I got from people, they were like, “Oh, there you are.” And “Look at you, and “You look amazing.” And “These are amazing pictures.” And it was a total game-changer.
Alice: Yeah. I love that story. And like I said, you're not alone in it. And I try to tell people - just “Just put one out there, see what happens. Please just give it a try.”
And statistically, literally, there are statistics that show if you are showing images of yourself, you are going to get more engagement. It's just a matter of fact these days.
So the more that you can put yourself out there…
Jen: The better it is for your business.
Alice: And one of your challenges with your content creation, I kind of stole your hashtag because I think it was like, hashtag timetobevisible.
And I think that is like for both of our businesses, it's just like, right on the money, it is time to be visible. And if you feel like your business isn't getting any attention it deserves, then you might want to consider, like, putting yourself out there.
Jen: Do you remember the time you and I went for coffee? And this woman from the community was in line, and she said to you, “Is that Jen Liddy?” or something like that? And she recognized me from you posting photos of me on your Instagram or something like that.
Like, she only recognized me because of my photos that you and I had been putting out, and I got her as a client.
Alice: Yeah. I was like, “Yes, that's her. Go talk to her. She's awesome.” And literally, the next day, I went to meet a potential client, because I was very much like that...What is it? The Shoemaker?
I wasn’t putting photos of myself out there. And this client that I was supposed to be meeting wasn't putting photos of herself out there. So we were literally there to meet each other standing side by side and not realizing that.
Jen: That's right. I forget about that story.
Alice: Black and white.
Jen: There's one other aspect that I want to kind of talk about because I know that you and I talked about your clients who have taken pictures of themselves.
And we both know the pictures are beautiful, that their makeup was done, that their hair was done, but they just don't like the photos because they can't stand the way that they look.
And I just recently had this conversation with a friend of mine who's a food and body love coach, and she asserts that the more we can see ourselves in pictures, the more we can learn to love ourselves and love and love on our businesses. Right?
And I was wondering, what your experience with, like, women who have learned to love themselves no matter what they look like in their pictures?
Alice: Yeah. So it's definitely something that a lot of women struggle with. And, you know, it's easy to do when you call it, like, “compare and despair”. Right? Like, “Oh, she’s skinnier. Her hair’s better.” Whatever. Just internal naysaying whether you're comparing or not.
But what I have found and what I actually literally heard from members is that they came into this knowing that they were going to get photographs for their business. But what they didn't realize that they were going to away with was more self-confidence and being in front of the camera. But also just kind of life, there's something about just practicing, showing up and just getting into that routine of “Okay, this is what I'm going to do.”
And then, you know, the difference also with this is if you hire a photographer for just a one on one branding session, there's a lot of pressure. And your brand photographer is going to a really good job at trying to, you know, get all of those details for you.
But it's kind of like a one and done situation, whereas with the membership, yes, we're going to get some of those important safe shots. But we're also going to feel like there's time for play and experimenting. And you can kind of “Let's do a couple of photos like this”. Then maybe it works great and then maybe it doesn't.
And you can try again the next month and see how it goes from there. And so I think that people are pushing themselves a little bit beyond what they might in just a standard session.
Jen: I would agree with that 100%. Like, I'm not a playful person.
So for me to be playful in these sessions and to just relax is like such a breath of fresh air for me, because it's not like I have to get it done, it has to be perfect. IIt's like if these three photos suck, there's like, 25 others that I know are going to be great.
Alice: Yeah. At least.
And then just the more I get to know everybody, I kind of get to learn more about their personalities and their interests and their likes, or hear that somebody does the Charleston in public with their son. Then I might say, “Hey, why don’t you do the Charleston?”
Jen: Yes, I do like to embarrass Jack by dancing.
If we're talking about loving our businesses more, finding ways to be playful, finding ways to be visible, and being confident with that.
I know that getting started with getting some branding photos Like, I make this joke, do you have a photo of your best friend’s ear is cut off, and it's your best friend is filling a photo or something. And so what would you say are A couple of baby steps that somebody...
So now we're talking about, like, the woman like me in 2016 and 2017. What are some baby steps that she could take before she would be willing to jump into a branding session?
Alice: Yeah. Well, I think what you started with me was my profile portrait special, which was just the mini-studio headshot session. So that is not going to give you content for a year but you're going to able to update your LinkedIn profile portrait and all your different social media portraits.
You can probably have a few different ones for that where your hair is what it looks like today and not 10 years ago. Every once in a while I see someone that's using a 10 or 15-year-old headshot, and that's just not gonna cut it these days, you know?
Jen: Right. People really want to know that you're going to up you present yourself online. It's hard for them to trust you.
Alice: And then sometimes I have clients that are ready for more. They come to me with a sort of like a starter package branding session. And then from there evolve into the membership. And then some people just come to me, and they have… you know… once I started advertising Loving My Company and putting it out there, I've had a people that are just like, “Yep, that's exactly what I need.”
Jen: Yeah. I love it, because every single month, I never have to look. I never have to take a selfie again. I never have to look for a photo. I have just this bank or library of photos that I can use in so many different ways.
I will say I still worry, like, are people going to get sick of my face because I'm so sick of seeing myself?
But I think of other people that I look at online and I'm like they are again. “There she is. I love her. Look at her. There she is.” And I think that we're so hard on ourselves in our businesses.
Alice: Yeah. I don't think people are going to get sick of your face.
Like, I literally read something today on Instagram, one of those inspirational quotes.
And it's like your followers or your cheerleaders. They're not your judges, right? No, they're not going to get sick of you because they're here to cheer you on. They like what you're putting out there.
Jen: One more plug I would in for having a relationship with a photographer, which is what your membership actually allows us to do is that you get to know us.
So you're like, remember, Jen, put your chin towards the light. Like, you always know how to cue me, you know how to read me when my energy is off, and you know how to jostle me back into being myself again when I'm feeling a little uptight.
So I feel like that's such a reason for getting into a membership like this or a relationship with a photographer.
Alice: Definitely. And, you know, hopefully, we are never exactly what we were in the past. Right? Like, we're in a constant, hopefully, evolution.
And so your business today is not what it was a year ago. And what you offered today isn't what you offered a year ago, necessarily. And so we're able to pivot the messaging and the words are your job, but the images to go along with that, right.
Then I was going to also say, like, as a photographer for me, it's so awesome because I get to work with my favorite client, like, every month, as opposed to that constant looking for another person, another client?
Alice: Yes, I love to have new clients, but it's also just really rewarding to get to know these 12 women so well and become friends.
Jen: And use each other's businesses, too.
Jen: Okay. So we’ve made a case made for why being more visible & having beautiful photos, having professional photos can help you love your business and love on your business a bit more.
And the side benefit is it also helps you love yourself a bit more. It's hard to quantify that, but I know that that's an outcome of this.
What I also know is you and I part of some bigger groups where we're friends with people across the country, and they're dying to work with you.
They obviously are not nearby, and they can't be part of your membership. So I know that one of the things that you're really bringing to is to train other photographers how to do this business model. Right?
Alice: That is true.
I am in the works of creating a beta training program for photographers outside the Syracuse area to helps them learn how to create this business model for themselves so that they can get out of that feast or famine income and just really grow in the development with the membership
Jen: And I know because I've been there from the start, this was a heavy lift. All of the ins and outs that you've learned you had to figure out on your own, but you've now put it into a kind of system and you could teach other people how to do that. And that's why I wanted to talk about the day in case if you're listening and you're watching and you have are sick of feast and famine or sick of like business of weddings and tired of that lifestyle.
Alice can teach people how to do this.
Jen: That's what I everybody to know.
Alice: I'm glad you brought up weddings because there's a lot of people that are either burned out on weddings, which I did weddings for, I don't know, 20-ish years.
Jen: A hundred years.
Alice: I reached my healing points rather quickly. But then also, I think with COVID, you know, last year I wreaked havoc on the wedding industry. But being a wedding photographer is like an incredible skill set to have coming into this and think a of photographers are sort of turning to brand photography, but being able to herd a group of people and direct them, which is what you do as a photographer, is a unique skill set that not everybody has. And I think that it really comes into play for this type of business model. And then obviously, branding photographers would be a great fit because it's just the next step for that business.
Jen: Yeah. What is your vision for Loving My Company? Do you imagine training, like, hundreds of people in this?
Alice: Yeah, thousands! I feel like every town in America.
Jen: Everybody could use one of these memberships.
Alice: Yeah. Absolutely. Like, Yeah. That's exactly how I feel that every town could use one of these.
Everybody I talk to who is my friend or a client or even one of my somebody in my audience, they always comment on the quality of my photos. ”You have beautiful photos.” And I'm like, I don't take them myself. Alice makes it happen. And they always wish they had an Alice. And I'm saying, like, Alice could train your people your photographer, or if you are a photographer, could train you on to do this and implement this and even out your even out that income roller coaster that we loathe so much.
Alice: Yeah. I'm definitely looking to train as many photographers as possible right now. I'm looking for about 3 to 6 photographers to apply for my data training program.
Jen: Yeah. So how would people get in touch with you to connect with you about learning more about this and getting trained or just to follow you.
Alice: Well, locally in Syracuse, I have about two openings for the membership. So if you are a woman entrepreneur and you're looking to up your image game and get yourself time to be visible, you can contact me through my Instagram Jen: LovingMyCompany or on email at helloJen: lovingmycompany.com
And then photographers out there, you can go to Loving My Company as well. And there will be section for photographers there.
Jen: Excellent. I know that doing interviews is not your favorite thing.
So I appreciate you having this conversation with me because I feel like I could talk about this a lot. And I have a lot to say. And I that you do, too, because of your expertise. But it's so important for us to keep growing ourselves, keep growing our companies, keep growing our businesses, and we have to stay in love with them or it just feels way too frickin’ hard.
Alice: Yeah, for sure. And this has been a great opportunity for me to practice for all future interviews.
Jen: You're going to having so many interviews.
Jen: I have to tell the audience, every time Alice and I talk about this thing that she does, people are like, “Wow, this is amazing. How can I be in it? ” But it wasn't easy for her to learn. And so she could really take you from it from A to Z and give you everything you need so that you can start this in your own business. And love your own business.
Alice: Yes. Thank you, Jen. I really appreciate that.
Jen: Thank you, Alice. I'm so excited you were here.
Please check out Alice's Instagram @LovingMyCompany. Her visuals are beautiful. The one thing I have to about Alice, she does an amazing job that I'm not very good at is she really gives other people a platform, so she shows off her clients and all of us that are doing. And she's so good at that. And I always admire that. So thank you for doing that.
Alice: Yeah. I appreciate that. I love to share my clients with the world.
Jen: Yes. And if you are feeling like I don't know how to put myself out there, I don’t like the way I look in photos. I totally get you. I hear you. I actually know Alice is nodding her head right now because she feels it too.
But I can't express how getting into a relationship with a photographer and just practicing being better at getting your photo taken. It's a skill that actually will help you grow your business and love your business even more.
Jen: And on that note.
Jen: Thanks, Alice. Bye, everybody, I’ll see you next week.