Our “SLR Lounge Artist Feature” articles highlight some of the very best photographers in the world. This article features Paul & Kristin Privette of Footstone Photography. Located in Gainesville, Florida, USA, the Privettes have been successfully running their photography business for over a decade. What drives them? What challenges do they still face? What’s their advice to other photographers? Read on as Paul & Kristin talk about photography, life, and how they’ve been dialing in their portrait photography business.

[Related: “Interview with Sanjay Jogia, of Eye Jogia Photography | Fundy Designer Artist Feature”]

Thanks so much for taking time to talk to us and the SLR Lounge readers about your photography business, Footstone Photography. You have over a decade down. That’s awesome! Tell us about your business.

We’re a husband and wife team that have been side by side photographing full time for eleven years now. We have three boys, and a fourth baby on the way. It’s been an amazing ride! In the beginning, we primarily focused on weddings. We absolutely love the wedding industry, and the relationships we’ve been able to build with our couples. However, as our children got older, we began accepting fewer and fewer weddings. Thankfully, we have two great team members who are now photographing weddings for us, Sally (Paul’s sister) and Alyson, a team member who has been assisting us for the last three years.

Because of Sally and Alyson’s excellence in knowing how to serve our clients the right way, we have been able to focus on the portrait side of our business, which we are thrilled about. We’re just so grateful  that Footstone Photography is evolving, and the future is exciting!

You mention the relationship with your couples and how you love the wedding industry. How does that translate into your portrait photography work? And how are you able to establish similar relationships?

Similar to a wedding, our job is to stand alongside families during the best days of their lives, and preserve their memories. We really can’t imagine a more rewarding responsibility than to be artists who create artwork with meaning. As wedding photographers we have the ability to influence how a couple sees the true beauty of their marriage and life together. Likewise, as portrait photographers, we have the opportunity to show a family the value and significance of what they’ve created together.

Recently, a client summed up what we see as the greatest responsibility we have as photographers. Paul was hanging a wall art collection of a client’s two daughters, and he whispered in Kristin’s ear, ‘Kristin, thank you for showing me my family is wall worthy.’ We’ll never forget that.

What have been some of the challenges in adding a thriving portrait photography business to an already successful wedding photography business?

First, it’s challenging to separate the brands. Brides want to see brides, and moms want to see children. So, we’re working towards finding that balance, both in our social media presence and on our website. We want the two areas of our business to be cohesive.

Second, the marketing strategies for families are very different than those for weddings. We’ve had great success with our strategies for building our wedding business. That said, starting over, and learning how to market to a new demographic, has been quite a learning curve. We’ve been tapping into the minds of very successful portrait photographers to learn what they’ve done, searching out those who are doing it right and are willing to share their advice.

Third, we are blessed to have the opportunity to have a second wedding team. Still, training and trusting can be a challenge. Sally and Alyson are truly incredible. But Footstone Photography is our baby! So it’s hard to let go.

Given those challenges (and thanks for sharing those), what advice would you give to a wedding photographer looking to add more portrait photography work to their business?

Two things really. Most importantly, find mentors. Go after photographers who have achieved success with a portrait business and study them. Avoid looking at what photographers around you are doing because you have no idea if they are successful. When you’re focused on what’s around you, you’re simply moving laterally. Look up!

Also, you’ll have to do some soul searching. It may sound silly, but you have to think about what can you give families that no one else can. Just like wedding photographers, portrait photographers are a dime a dozen. You’ll have to find out what it is that your clients need that only you can give them.

Great advice. Before you go, you’ve been on a bit of a soul-searching adventure with a personal project. Tell us about that.

Two years ago we started a personal project that has literally changed our lives. It started out as a conversation like, ‘What are we really doing with our lives, and why have we been led down this path?’ Overall, it turned into one of the most pivotal discussions we’ve ever had. This conversation led to the true reason we want to be photographers, and what we sincerely want to give our clients. It’s all very personal now, even reaching beyond our business. It’s become what we want to give the world; you can check it out here:

You can check out more of Footstone Photography’s work on their website and on social media (Facebook and Instagram).

Before you go, we’d love for you to check out the most recent SLR Lounge Award Winners here, and don’t forget to submit by the February 28 deadline to be considered for SLR Lounge’s February 2019 awards competition. Finally, remember that anyone can sign up for an SLR Lounge account for free and submit to the awards platform, but Premium Members are able to submit up to three photographs each month!