Business + Marketing

Luxury Photoshoots that Give Tweens Esteem 

August 30, 2023

By Abbey Pleviak

Josh Beaton is a Chicago-area photographer specializing in luxury portraits with an edge, and he also shoots headshots for actors. After taking the step to run his studio full-time, Beaton and his wife Danielle also started a portrait photography non-profit called The Tween Esteem Project. The organization offers luxury portraits to teens and tweens, giving them a much-needed confidence boost in this social-media-saturated world, where digital distortion harms the way young people view themselves. Beaton recently joined host Nikki Closser on The Portrait System Podcast to talk about his portrait business and his plans for The Tween Esteem Project. 

In his 20-year career as a graphic designer, Beaton worked his way up to creative director. In the past few years, Beaton developed a portrait studio on the side, making the leap to going full-time into portraiture this February. Beaton specializes in luxury portraits, headshots, and senior photos. One day, Beaton a young lady interested in being a TV extra came to his studio for headshots. While chatting with her godmother, Beaton discovered that the girl was going through a difficult time and was struggling with her self-esteem. He invited her back for a full luxury shoot for no charge – just to give her the experience. She was so moved by the experience that she wrote a school paper about him on the topic of a person who had significantly impacted her life. 

Beaton says, “It’s a different world than when I was a teen. If you’re getting bullied, for instance, when I was a teen, you came home from school and the bullying is done. Now . . . social media bullying non-stop. These kids don’t have a have a chance to take a breath and just be with themselves.” 

[Read: How to Turn Personal Photo Projects into Paid Work]

Beaton was moved to make creating luxury portraits for tweens a cornerstone of his business. However, he noticed that he was only booking these shoots to one demographic — white girls from the suburbs. With Chicago being such a diverse city, Beaton knew that there were many more teens and tweens who could greatly benefit from this experience and that his current business model couldn’t reach them.  

He and his wife started a nonprofit to seek funding for youth who can’t afford the experience. Now they have a prestigious board and are seeking a major grant and other funding sources. They’ve served over twenty young people, many of whom are in foster care. For youths like this, who often have no photos at all of themselves as children, the experience is tremendously empowering. Beaton and his wife have seen the youth they have worked with have such profound improvements in their senses of self, that they hope to extend the program nationwide, working with portrait photographers in different locales who can provide the same standard of service to local youth.  

© The Portrait System

To learn more about Josh Beaton’s work, visit Josh Beaton Photography and The Tween Esteem Project

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. 

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