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Life & Work with Sara Coffin

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sara Coffin.

Hi Sara, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Call it an accident or call it fate, either way my path to photography was unplanned. I was working as a magazine editor – my dream job – when the photographer that worked with our team noticed some film images I had taken on Facebook. She asked if I’d be interested in second shooting a wedding with her; it sounded like fun, so I said yes. For the next few years, I shot as often as I could while working at the magazine, but didn’t really fully commit to photography until my job at the magazine ended, an unfortunate casualty of The Great Recession.

I entered the industry in 2010, with no formal training in photography, marketing or business, when there was little available education in all of these areas. There was a lot of failure, a lot of working through self-doubt and on self-confidence, a constant wrestling with imposter syndrome. I struggled to find my way and my place for many years.

About five years ago, I went through what I would now describe as my Dark Night of the Soul. During that period, I hit a proverbial rock bottom and I had no choice to take a step back and work on my relationship with myself before taking another step in any direction with my business.

What I found in the period following was that I did have a place in this industry, and that place didn’t have to be defined by the type of photography I practiced but instead could be defined by how I served my clients, helping them feel seen and valued just as I was working on seeing and valuing myself.

Since then, I’ve made focusing on delivering a beautiful, quality product and focusing on excellent client service the cornerstone of my business. Realizing the impact of serving others in this industry has absolutely been the game-changer in my business, and now I’m making it my mission to help other photographers realize the same.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It definitely hasn’t been an easy road, but as they say, nothing worth having is easy. Becoming a photographer has taught me more about myself and more about people by having to actually having to engage vs just witnessing them like the writer in me always felt comfortable with. It’s required me to be hands-on, to get messy, to confront my own issues in order to move forward with my craft.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I started my career in the wedding industry but never felt like I was truly in the right place until I found portrait work. I love the element of control you have over a portrait session that you don’t have on a wedding day. Weddings taught me some valuable skills: To interact with many types of people and work with different family dynamics, to become comfortable working with many types of lighting, to find the best wherever you are, to think on the fly. But that dynamic for me – I’m a pretty quiet, thoughtful person – is stressful. When I found portrait work, I found so much peace in the element of control you have over the session: the location, the lighting, the moodboard. All these things are not only able to be pre-planned, but the success of the shoot in many instances actually hinges on these elements being carefully curated. I feel like my creativity and style has truly bloomed under this type of structure.

I’m known for my headshot, brand, and lifestyle photography and for making people feel comfortable enough to allow me to capture their authentic selves in images. I think I’m most proud of this: Being able to make people feel comfortable, to feel seen, to make an experience that can often be vulnerable, empowering. I’m proud of the level of service and authenticity I bring to what can otherwise be a superficial industry.

What are your plans for the future?
As a self-taught photographer coming up before the age of social media and viral photography education, I was so fortunate to be personally mentored by a handful of other established photographers. That experience meant the world to me; ever since I’ve been passionate about mentoring other photographers. Over the years, I’ve done so in a small way by having interns, but in 2017, one of those interns turned into my first employee. The experience of helping her grow into herself and craft was unparalleled. Last year I decided I wanted to start serving through education in a more official capacity. I’ve started offering 1:1 mentor sessions, and this fall I’ll release my first course which outlines a path to creating lasting client relationships and how this simple, thoughtful, often-undervalued act can revolutionize your photography business, providing profitability with years of return and referred leads. If you’re interested in receiving periodic updates on the course, its release, and special launch pricing, you can sign up for the waitlist here: https://view.flodesk.com/pages/609bd8cf391ebeed55b37a27. It’d be an honor to have you along.

Pricing:

  • $700 project minimum
  • 1/hr session
  • (20) retouched images
  • Images selected for editing by the client via online proofing gallery
  • Client receives digital and print rights to the images

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Sara Coffin Team (for my photo) Sara Coffin (for all portfolio images)

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