Maker | How Emily Magers made it as a Photographer

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Today I talk with photographer and business educator Emily Magers. Emily is based in LA and has not only established an amazing photography business, but now coaches and mentors other photographers through online courses and in person workshops. We talk about pricing, being a second shooter, branding, how to get your work seen, creating community in your business, benefits of education and so much more. You’re going to love this episode and learn so much from Emily


  • In college, Emily was an Astrophysics major. But just after finishing she felt a calling to photography. Unsure of what it entailed or where to begin she emailed all the photographers in her area she could find asking for their best tips and tricks. One of them replied and in his response invited her to be a second shooter at a wedding with him. Emily took full advantage of this opportunity and from there became a second shooter on weddings for 2 years to enable her to learn so much and develop her skills.
  • Emily would highly recommend being a second shooter to wedding photographers just starting out.  She knows it sounds terrifying, but it can be so rewarding. If necessary ven just be a third shooter, or offer to carry equipment for the day to get a feel for how the day goes as a photographer.
  • When staring out, Emily says her biggest struggle was the emotional struggle of not feeling good enough or adequate to pursue photography. She felt behind and would compare herself to other photographers who had been in the industry far longer. Not only this, but she also struggled with the information overload. She felt there were a million things she needed to do and that she needed a legit brand to be recognised and actually get work.
  • Branding and creating her own website was something Emily struggled to figure out. She didn’t know who she wanted to be as a brand and business so was unsure where to start with that. She ended up paying a lot of money for someone to design a brand and website for her, but now looking back sees it as one of her biggest mistakes. To those starting out now, Emily recommends creating a simple website (you can even use free templates you can find online) that has a little bit of text about you, images of your work and a place for people to go to contact you.
  • I know a lot of photographers struggled to get paid their worth, and this is something Emily herself struggled with too.  People undermine themself. They don’t feel adequate or good enough to be paid what they are actually worth. But Emily emphasises “Our time is money as well as our craft. Our time and craft is worth something”. This doesn’t mean you should charge what everyone else is charging when you start out.  It’s ok to charge less when starting out. You can’t redo it and you people go crazy about their wedding photos. But with time your pricing will change and you’ll become more confident with what you charge. Charging what you’re worth  comes with time and confidence.
  • I asked Emily what advice she would give to other creatives just starting out and facing the same struggles she did. Her response was to “produce the work and post the work that you want to attract”. If that means having to set up a whole bunch of free shoots so people can see the type of work you do, that’s ok..  If you do shoots for people who aren’t your ideal client, don’t use that work to advertise because you will attract more of those kinds of clients. Only post the type of work you want to attract and eventually you will be able to post all of your work because you’re attracting the clients you want.
  • Emily has found her best marketing success using Instagram. About 90% of her enquiries come through there. The great thing about Instagram is that it is free and image focused which is super helpful for photographers and really any creative business. When using Instagram it is important to keep in mind that followers are not everything. Just because someone has a lot of followers does not mean that they’re doing better than someone with only a couple of hundred followers. There are so many avenues for marketing and everyone finds different ones more beneficial for their business, but for Emily, it’s Instagram.
  • Emily’s single most impactful thing she did for her business was invest. She said “You have to invest in your business before it invests in you”. Investing in gear, in education, time into practice and second shooting. It took time and it took work, but it’s important to remember that being eager and open to learning are investments into your business. Education is a really great way to develop yourself and give you confidence in your knowledge going forward with your business. 
  • Emily’s wish for what she knew when she was starting out was that she had someone to encourage her and remind her that she is good enough and to keep going. And she gives this advice to anyone just starting out now. There is so much information, programs, tips, tricks, and opportunity, and it is so much that it is easy to become overwhelmed and just want to throw in the towel. Emily really wishes she had someone to remind her that she was good enough and to keep striving, and now encourages others with that same reminder.


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