Inspire Me Friday Interview #5} Skye Hardwick

Every once in a while you come across a photographer who's style is a perfect match to your own personality. It's this amazing meld where what they create somehow reflects how you feel inside. Skye Hardwick who is the artist behind Work of Heart Photography and the mastermind of Soulographer (creative resource for photogs) is exactly that for me! When I look at her work I just can't help but feel warm and cozy inside! With that being said, as you can imagine... I'm pretty excited to be showcasing the very talented Skye today!

How long have you been a photographer?
I am coming up on my sixth year in business this spring. On one hand it seems forever ago since I started, yet on the other, seems like yesterday.

What's in your bag?
· My D700 w/ grip
· 50mm f1.4
· 85mm f1.4
· 28 - 75 f2.8
· Three 4 gig memory cards
· Nikon camera battery quick charger
· Packet of to-go anti-bacterial wipes
· Cloth for lens cleaning
· Sugar-free bubble gum
· First aid to go packet (in car)
· Chapstick & Q-tips for application to dry lips

Do you shoot on location / studio or combination?
I shoot entirely on location and love it. I don’t think I would have it any other way, although in the next few years I’d love to have a larger yard set up with shooting favorites (junky car, an area of tall grass, old fence, etc.). Something I could change up when the mood strikes me! For me, a studio would be too confining – I love to get out there and make the best of the shooting locations I am presented.
I do covet the idea of having a place to meet clients, however. That way I can do projection for my ordering – which is the way to go for those big sales.

How many sessions do you like to schedule a week and how do you keep it all flowing?
Two sessions a week is my happy place. I am a lower volume, higher sales type photography business. I’d much rather work two sessions per week at $1800 average sale than four sessions a week at $475 average sales. Work smarter, not harder.

What's your favorite product you offer?
I purposely do not offer my clients too much in the way of products – for one, things can get too confusing (for myself and the client) with too many options; as well as products have a way of eating up your bottom line.
My main focus is on selling my beautiful images (great profit for me). If I had to choose, however, I do love the storybook albums I am offering through my lab, WHCC – simply stunning books …and less than a week turn around. Love that!

What's been your best and worst marketing ideas?
Best marketing for me has always been word of mouth. Never underestimate a client who loves your work and tells all her friends and family. I’ve seen photographer friends of mine whose businesses have spread like wildfire because of it. I’ve never had a “wild fire” experience, all slow and steady, which is fine with me as it gave me a chance to learn from my mistakes and get good policies and prices in place.
You can have all the potential clients in the world calling in, but if you don’t have good policies – they can have a field day with your sanity. And if you do not have proactive pricing built for a profit, you’ll get burned out and hate what you once loved.
I truly believe there is a difference between a client and a “right client” (aka target client). I try my best to pre-qualify all my clients to match up with the right clients as best I can. And no, a right client does not necessarily mean “wealthy” either!
As for the worst marketing ideas … it is tough to put a generalized “worst” without knowing more information on someone’s business, but generally speaking it is not advised to do a direct mailing for high end children’s photography (senior photography may be a different story) – especially if you have limited marketing funds. I highly recommend focusing your marketing dollars on something less risky. A fab book on marketing is Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson

Weakness in the business?
I am not a huge phone person so I often let phone calls go to voice mail and I will sort through them later on that day. Although, for the past two years I’ve noticed a trend in which clients do not call to book sessions, they do so online through email. Now email, I can do email. *Laughs*

What is your favorite indulgence (besides red lipstick ;)?
Photography-wise … I love my medium pink Jill-E camera bag! I love anything pink and it is the right size for my two camera bodies and favorite lenses.
I am not sure that could be considered an “indulgence” in a field where many photographers have an array of various lenses (I have my three favorites) and equipment – I like to keep things simple.
Unrelated to photography, I have a weakness for comfy pj’s, good smelling candles, 100 calorie Little Debbie snacks, and anything Sephora.

Did you ever have a moment when you thought, 'what am I doing?'
No, but I do have moments where I can’t believe I get to do something I am so passionate about for a living. Since the 8th grade I’ve loved photography, but never thought it was something I could do as a career. God showed me otherwise, and here I am years later – excited about what the future holds!

When did you feel like you'd made it?
*Laughs* When I first started photography almost six years ago, I was a broke single mom and college student. I swore I knew I had “made it” when I could buy only organic milk. I have been buying only organic milk for years now and I once changed my “I’ve made it when …” speech to when I could buy my clothes only from Anthropologie … but, lol, wisdom reminded me of my priorities and the truth that I never want to truly “make it” as I always want to be teachable and moving forward to the next level.

What would you say to a new photographer?
I am often asked by those who are in the portfolio building stage as to when they should start charging full prices. I always say when you can be consistent in your work and you have the confidence to charge appropriate prices for it.
Yes, everyone has their moments when they were off during a shoot, but when you are able to consistently offer each client a well lit, good variety, strong technically (white balance, good exposure, etc) session, then you may be ready for the next level. If you are still very hit or miss, consider portfolio building a while longer.
Not everyone may like what I’m about to say, if you are not confident enough to jump into the market with appropriate prices for your area -- you should consider sticking to the portfolio building until your confidence grows. Ask any professional photographer who has been in the business for a year or two – they are frustrated with the new photographers who charge such low prices. When I say low I am talking about $10 5x7’s …remember, Walmart charges $20 for an 8x10.
Of course, I want to be hired by potential clients not because I am the “cheapest”, but because they love my work – it still hurts the photography market as a whole when people come onto the scene with ridiculously low prices – prices they cannot possibly be making a profit with. Remember, if you are not making a profit, you have yourself a very expensive hobby.

Want more of Skye? Stay tuned because on Monday were going to look into the workshop workbook with a very special surprise for Go{4}Pro Readers! I'm giddy just thinking about it!


  1. Leah, I love your blog and I am heeding so much of your advice and learning so much from your interviews. Love Skye's work....and can't wait to get my hands on a copy of her workshop workbook and DVD.

  2. Skye has always been an inspiration to me and always will be - she is a very creative person and a savvy business person.

  3. I love Skye's work as well as the advise and suggestions she has given in this interview. She answered sooo many questions for me in this one interview that I've been wondering about as a new photographer hoping to go pro, but only in the portfolio building stage. Thank you!