Business + Marketing

How Felicia Reed Kept Her Photo Brand Thriving While Fighting Cancer 

February 20, 2023

By Abbey Pleviak

In this episode of The Portrait System Podcast, host Nikki Closser speaks with Austin, Texas, portrait photographer Felicia Reed. Shortly after Reed’s first appearance on The Portrait System Podcast, she was diagnosed with cancer. She shares her story of keeping her photo brand thriving while overcoming cancer. 

In November 2020, when Reed first appeared on The Portrait System Podcast, she had just completed her best year in business, doubling her salary from the year before. She had completed her first 40-Over-40 campaign, was about to purchase her own studio space, and had hired her first full-time assistant. One month later, she received the news that she had breast cancer. Reed feared the worst, and so it was a relief when her oncologist told her she would only need 12 weeks of chemotherapy once a week. 

Reed is a woman of tremendous faith with a mindset that is firmly rooted in her ability to succeed, so in the face of this diagnosis, she counted her blessings. Her assistant had already taken on all her tasks that were not the hard money-making activities in her business, and now Reed had her step out of her Thursday task of attending Business Networking International so that she could be available to assist her with Thursday chemotherapy. Reed saw clients on Mondays and Wednesdays, did business coaching on Tuesdays, and took Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off to rest. 

[Read: Pricing Portrait Photography to Suit Your Clients and Your Growing Business]

Reed encourages all portrait photographers to prepare in advance for situations like this. She says, “As an entrepreneur and as small business creatives, a diagnosis like this can destroy your business. That’s why I’m always encouraging people when I’m coaching them to set up their business [for] profitability, where you pay yourself first. . .and get life insurance. . .I really want to encourage creatives; we’re always focusing on our business, but what about our life, too? What is that going to look like? What if we were affected? What if we had to have surgery?” 

Reed was able to keep going with her business because she was financially prepared for a situation like this. She had been giving herself a salary that enabled her both to live and to save up a nest egg for unexpected events like this. Additionally, having an in-person assistant and a virtual assistant supported her business operations even while she had to scale back her own activities. And just as importantly, working with her clients—women over 40—inspired and energized her, as did decorating her new studio. Now, after completing chemo and going through four surgeries, Reed maintains an attitude of gratitude and the mindset for success that has brought her through this challenging time of fighting cancer while keeping her photo brand thriving. 

photo brand

To learn more about Reed’s business coaching and photo brand, visit Makin’ Money Moves. To see more of Reed’s work and learn about her photo brand, visit Felicia Reed Photography.  

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.