News + Features

Biggest Business Breakthrough: Vanessa Joy Q&A

May 3, 2023

By Abbey Pleviak

Vanessa Joy is an Austin, Texas-area wedding photographer and a Canon Explorer of Light. She’s an educator, writer, and her photographs have been published in countless publications. Her 23+ year wedding photography business focuses on telling stories of love in a fun way with a combination of photojournalistic images and simple posing.  

Recently, she caught up with Ashleigh Taylor for a special edition of the WPPI Podcast, where she talked about her educational YouTube channel, her social media marketing seminar at WPPI, and what she loves about WPPI, which she has been attending since 2010. You can hear the whole episode here.

Below, Vanessa shares her biggest business breakthrough and advice for building a successful photography business. 

© Courtesy of Vanessa Joy


What has been your biggest business breakthrough? 

My biggest business breakthrough was when I realized that my photography business wasn’t just about taking pretty pictures. It was about creating an experience for my clients that they would cherish forever and a well-oiled machine of a workflow to sustain that experience. Once I shifted my focus from solely delivering a product to delivering an exceptional experience, my business began to thrive and my clients were happier. 
 [Read: Photo Business Breakthroughs: Natalie Franke Q&A]

What is your average sale currently?  

My average sale varies depending on the length and type of session and what products my clients choose. My average wedding client invests $20,000 after all their products and albums are completed. 

©  Vanessa Joy

How did you push past fear when building your business? 

I can’t say I’ve had much fear in business. I’ve had a fear of failing, but it’s more failing to provide income for my family. I push past all of it like a juggernaut, probably to a fault, and just keep my head down doing everything in my power to keep moving forward. 

For someone starting out on their photography journey, what advice would you have for them?  

My biggest advice for someone starting out in photography is to never stop learning and practicing – and preferably in person with another photographer (or photographers). Photography is an ever-evolving field, and the best way to succeed is to constantly hone your craft and seek out new knowledge and techniques and learn from those around you, both new and experienced. 

[Read: The Portrait System’s Accountability Group]

Do you regret any decisions you have made in your business?  

As with any business owner, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes along the way, but mostly I regret those that have made my clients unhappy. I’ll make mistakes that hurt me, and they won’t affect me nearly as much as ones that upset my clients. My clients are truly a priority for me, and I care about their happiness. 

©  Vanessa Joy

What fellow artists in the industry do you gain the most inspiration from?  

There are so many talented photographers in the industry that inspire me, but some of my favorites include Joe Buissink, Jose Villa and Rafalo Strowski. 

Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?  

In the next 5 years, I see my business continuing to grow and evolve as I expand into new areas of photography and offer even more personalized experiences for my clients. My ultimate goal is to become a leader in the industry and inspire others to pursue their own photography dreams, and hopefully have a few of them develop a joy for teaching others and passing on the torch.