Business + Marketing

Roberto Valenzuela’s Biggest Business Breakthroughs

January 5, 2023

By Abbey Pleviak

Roberto Valenzuela believes that if photographers put in the work, they can, without a doubt, create a successful portrait photography business. He insists that he never had a natural talent for photography, but through hard work, dedication, and lots of mistakes, he developed the mastery to build a thriving business and become a successful photography educator. Here, he shares some of his biggest business breakthroughs.

Roberto Valenzuela’s Business Breakthroughs:

What have been some of your biggest business breakthroughs?  

The biggest breakthrough in business for me came when I realized the importance of working smarter, not harder when it comes to marketing my business. Most of us don’t give Search Engine Optimization (SEO) a single thought in our everyday lives. The moment I decided to make SEO a major priority regarding my marketing efforts, everything changed. I combine strong and well-done SEO with grassroots marketing. This combination keeps the phone ringing because it’s easy for people to find me.

[Read: Photography Marketing Tactics: What Works and What Doesn’t?]

A second big breakthrough came when I focused my photography skillset on masterful posing. I wanted to know everything about posing and be able to react instantaneously if I saw an unflattering or distracting pose on my clients. Posing that’s well done is invisible. Nobody notices it. But posing badly becomes a major distraction and clients react instinctively negatively towards how they look.  


Roberto Valenzuela's biggest business breakthroughs
© Roberto Valenzuela

How did you push past fear when building your business?  

Sometimes the innocence of a child can take you places. Children have no fear. They just do what they want. But us adults, we like to overthink everything. We are afraid to go out there and cross promote our business with other businesses in the community. We are afraid to make appointments with the people that could get us a flow of leads. We think we are not worthy; we think we are not ready. My advice is to think like a child with no inhibitions and just go for it like a train with no breaks. If you don’t market your business aggressively, nobody will do it for you. 

portrait by Roberto Valenzuela
© Roberto Valenzuela

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

If you are starting out, I would advise you to focus on your skills behind the camera, not behind a computer. Become the best photographer you can be at natural light, flashes, posing, compositions, and printing. Don’t be afraid of flashes and don’t let anyone tell you that artificial light doesn’t look complimentary or natural. It certainly can if you do it right! In fact, learning how to make flashes look very natural can bring huge advantages at separating you from the competition. Focus on education instead of thinking that the gear will be the answer.   

natural light portrait by Roberto Valenzuela
© Roberto Valenzuela

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

Once I was established and considered a brand within the people I serve, I slowly began to lose sight of my client’s excitement to receive photos almost immediately after the shoot. I remember thinking that quality takes time, and they must wait. I thought I was doing the right thing by prioritizing how much time it takes me to perfect a photo to create a deliverable masterpiece. What I found out the hard way is that if people don’t receive something right away, or as fast as possible, their excitement towards the photoshoot dissipates rapidly. As a result, at the time of delivery of their shoot, the clients felt 10% of the excitement they felt before. This resulted in much lower sales, and much lower word-of-mouth testimonials. Big mistake! Now, I do whatever it takes to deliver up to 5 photos the same day of the shoot.   

Make sure to catch Roberto Valenzuela’s class at WPPI 2023—”Impactful Lighting Without Breaking the Bank” on Tuesday, March 7, from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m.

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