Business + Marketing

Lifestyle Photography Success: Elena S Blair Q&A

September 5, 2023

By Abbey Pleviak

Elena S Blair is a Seattle-area photographer, specializing in families and newborns. She recently sat down with host Nikki Closser on The Portrait System Podcast to talk about what one needs to focus on in order to experience success with lifestyle photography and how having a studio has nothing to do with charging professional rates. For Elena, who only shoots on location, it all boils down to understanding your style and ideal client so that you can provide them with services they need and feel satisfied in the process.

In addition to keeping a busy schedule photographing clients, Elena also offers education for photographers, and she’ll be teaching at The Portrait Masters Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, next week.

In this bonus Q&A, Elena shares how connecting with her artistic purpose led to her success in lifestyle photography, how she makes great connections with clients, and more.

Elena S Blair

What has been your biggest breakthrough in business? 

My biggest breakthrough was understanding that the key to success was staying true to who I am as an artist – really rooting deeply into my “why.” As soon as I stopped chasing trends, everything changed for me. That is when my business truly exploded.  

Making a connection with your subject is one of the most important parts of a great portrait. How do you make lasting connections with your clients? 

I couldn’t agree with this more. In fact, my motto is “connection over perfection.” Connection starts with you, the photographer. You have to allow yourself to feel something when making a photograph. I strongly believe that if nothing was felt when a portrait was made, then nothing will be felt when a portrait is viewed. I do this by being relatable and vulnerable with my subjects. I talk to them and let them know that I sincerely care about who they are and that I want their unique personality and story to show in my work.  

© Elena S Blair

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

In the next 5 years, I see myself only photographing “legacy” family clients, meaning clients who I have photographed before. As I become busier with my education and coaching business, I see myself stepping into the “photographer consultant” role and really want to lean into that. I won’t stop capturing the families who I capture year after year, but I really want to scale back the amount of family photoshoots I do a year.  

What is your average sale currently? 

I am all-inclusive and charge $1400 per session. I know that isn’t a popular or on-trend way to run a photography business, but it works perfectly for me and my ideal client. I photograph 100-150 sessions a year. You can do the math. That is a very respectable salary for a family photographer.  


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. If you’d like to be a guest on The Portrait System Podcast, send them a voice message. 

Tickets to the Portrait Masters Conference | Sept. 11 – 14, 2023

Newborn and Maternity Lifestyle Photography by Elena Blair

Family Lifestyle Photography by Elena Blair