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025. Why You Need Accountability and Compassion to Run a Successful Photography Business


Why You Need Accountability and Compassion to Run a Successful Photography Business

The COVID-19 pandemic brought a lot of changes to business owners — some good, some not so much. One of the good changes is how we treat the people we serve in our businesses. We’ve become more aware of how important it is to treat others with kindness and respect, while still setting and maintaining clear boundaries.  Just like any other business, you need both accountability and compassion to make your boudoir photography business a success.

What does compassion in business look like?

Compassion is defined as pity, concern, or sympathy for the suffering of others. You might see compassion listed as a core value for many companies. And it makes sense, because it pays off. Studies show that the employees of compassionate organizations are less stressed and happier with their jobs!

What might compassion look like for you as a photographer? Noticing your clients emotions during a shoot is super important, especially as a boudoir photographer.

Our subjects are often in vulnerable and — let’s be honest — nude or semi-nude poses during shoots. If your client is feeling uncomfortable or insecure, it’s up to you to take notice and help them out. Ask them how they’re feeling. Let them take a break, or try a different pose or setup.

Paying attention to their emotions before and after a shoot is important, too. You might get clients who are surprised at the cost of your services. It’s not to be insulting! They may not be used to a luxe brand like yours. Have compassion: validate them, then educate them on why your services are an investment.

Client privacy should always be a top priority, too. Your clients should know that you won’t share photos from their shoot on social media or on your website without their explicit consent. A photographer in any niche should do this, but it’s essential as a boudoir photographer.

How about accountability in business?

Now, let’s think about accountability. It’s often thought of as the opposite of compassion. Accountability is defined as being held accountable, or responsible, for your actions. You can hold yourself accountable, or hold others accountable.

What might accountability look like in your photography business? Giving your clients updates on the progress of their order helps. Don’t let weeks of silence go by after a shoot! Let your clients know how things are going. Give them an estimate of when their order will be ready, if you can.

Quick tip on doing this: under-promise and over-deliver. 

For example, if you tell a client they’ll have their album in hand in six to eight weeks, deliver it in four to five if you can. This is how you make clients happy. And happy clients lead to repeat business and more referrals.

Another is apologizing when you’ve made a mistake. Really, this applies to anyone who runs any type of business of their own! It’s really important to acknowledge when you mess up and figure out how to make it better.

Balance accountability and compassion for your photo biz

Imagine a client who really wants a $3,500 collection, but she only has the funds for a $2,000 collection. Is there a way you can use accountability and compassion to give her what she wants, without sacrificing your business?

Yes! In this hypothetical situation, you might set up a payment plan for her so that she can pay for her investment in installments. You’re holding her accountable by setting up the payment plan with automatic withdrawals. 

And you’re being compassionate by finding a solution, rather than saying “no” right away. We photography business owners want to get paid up front, of course, but it’s up to you to have other payment options for situations like these.

Can you see how accountability and compassion are needed together to run a successful photography business? 

Practice compassion without accountability, and you may face clients who ignore your boundaries. Or you might avoid being honest so you don’t hurt your clients’ feelings. Accountability without compassion may look like not listening to your clients, or being too strict about certain rules.

Compassionate accountability takes practice

As a boudoir photography business owner, you’ve gotta practice compassionate accountability to make it all work. It’s the best way to be an effective leader, photographer, and service provider for your clients.

Not sure where to start? Think about what you feel more comfortable with, compassion or accountability. Once you know the answer, give the other more attention and practice. I’m soft-spoken and tenderhearted, so compassion comes to me more easily than accountability. But I’ve gotten better practicing both in my years of business.

I also want to gently remind you to show yourself compassion and accountability, too. Be compassionate and give yourself grace when you need rest, more time, or help. Hold yourself accountable by respecting your boundaries and acknowledging what needs to be done.

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If you want to see day in the life/BTS of a 7-figure photographer, be sure to follow me on Instagram. That’s where I hang out most of the time. 🙂


Tracy Lynn is a boudoir photogapher for brides-to-be in the St. Louis area, and a mentor + coach for photographers looking to level up their businesses with better systems and processes.

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