Business + Marketing

How to Add Multiple Income Streams into Your Portrait Business

August 1, 2022

By Abbey Pleviak

In this episode of The Portrait System Podcast, host Nikki Closser speaks with Annapolis, Maryland, photographer Heather Crowder about how she brought multiple income streams into her portrait business, which includes headshots, corporate photography, boutique school photography, child and family portraits, and studio rentals.

Crowder started her business shooting on location with a home office and moved into her first retail space in 2010. She stayed there for six years until the landlord needed the property back. At that time, she had the opportunity to move into a beautiful, historic building called The Livery. The only problem was that it was far more expensive. To offset the cost, Crowder began renting to other photographers and also opened it up for events like meetings and parties. It has become a successful business in its own right, but because she couldn’t exhibit her own client work there, this last summer, Crowder rented another space in the same building upstairs. Her new studio is dedicated to her own photography business, and she also rents to other photographers.

Crowder’s business was initially focused on child and family portraits when she got the opportunity to take school pictures for a private preschool with 200 students and two campuses. While it was outside her usual purview, Crowder thought it would be a great networking opportunity. She says, “I built great relationships with those parents, and I see them maybe not every year, but repeatedly, for family portraits. I’m also seeing them . . . when Mom and Dad need headshots, or their company needs me to come in and do headshots. What I found was, very quickly, school photography is very profitable if you do it the right way.”

In addition to this first preschool, Crowder now photographs for five additional schools. Because she handles the back end of ordering and delivering, all those clients are in her marketing database. She also offers them first dibs on booking sessions for a Santa Claus shoot that happens in her own studio space. At these sessions, parents get to see her in action. Not only is it a profitable event, it also helps her further nurture these repeat client relationships, many of which have been ongoing for the last 14 years.

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Learn more about Heather Crowder and her multiple income streams/different businesses at her websites:, Modern School Portraits, and Lightbox Studio.

The Portrait System Podcast helps portrait photographers navigate the world of photography, business, money, and much more. Hosted by Nikki Closser, the podcast is powered by The Portrait System, a comprehensive, online educational platform that teaches all aspects of running a successful portrait photography studio.