#ShootProofPro: Tina J. Smith (“I’m the ultimate hype girl.”)

Even accomplished photographers get down on themselves. Here’s how #ShootProofPro Tina J. Smith tackles her challenges by emphasizing her wins. (An interview with TINA J. SMITH)


Today’s #ShootProofPro: Tina J. Smith Photography

In Business Since: 2017
Tina’s Home Base: Atlanta, GA
Follow Her on Instagram: @tinasmiff (how cute is that handle?)
Follow Her on Facebook: @tinajsmithphotography

#ShootProofPro: 7 Stories for Days When You Think You Suck (Portrait of photographer Tina J. Smith holding her camera.)
A portrait of #ShootProofPro Tina J. Smith

If a photographer tells you they’ve never made a mistake in their business, or that they’ve never struggled with self-doubt, the photographer you’re talking to is a liar. (Or just really good at spinning things in a positive light.)

Even talented, successful photographers like Tina J. Smith can find themselves in a tight spot. We asked Tina to share her methods for staying focused, inspired, and full of energy. Here’s what she had to say . . .


#1: Boost your creativity with fresh techniques.

Tina: “My very first purchase as a photographer was the 50mm f/1.8, and to this day I never go to a shoot without it! I also make sure to take a small piece of clear cello sheet with me. I like to use it in front of my lens to create some dreamy aesthetics and get creative.”

#ShootProofPro: 7 Stories for Days When You Think You Suck (Left: Black man in a suit jacket. Right: White woman in a yellow blouse.)
Photographs by #ShootProofPro Tina J. Smith

#2: Respect your journey, and let your mistakes help you grow.

Tina: “When I first started my business, I did not use contracts! YIKES! I had to learn the hard way with this one.”

“I had a client who did not pay me for 6 months.

“This experience taught me that it was crucial for me to get all of my business ducks in a row. Having good communication [with] all expectations mapped out between both parties from the start makes life easier. Things run smoother when you’ve got a contract!”

#ShootProofPro: 7 Stories for Days When You Think You Suck (Left: Black man leaned forward, looking down, and laughing. Right: White blonde woman standing in a city looking toward the horizon.)
Photographs by #ShootProofPro Tina J. Smith

#3: Uplift others and you’ll uplift yourself.

Tina: “Whether it’s a lifestyle shoot with a beautiful family, or a personal branding session with an entrepreneur, I LOVE learning all about what makes my clients special so I can capture their true authenticity. Seeing them shine never gets old!

“I am the ultimate hype girl! Whether it’s my client’s first time in front of the camera or they’re a natural, I love that we’re in this together.

“Encouraging them and making sure every session is light-hearted and fun is my favorite thing!”

#ShootProofPro: 7 Stories for Days When You Think You Suck (Black woman in striped shirt and pink head scarf smiling with her eyes toward the sky.)
Photograph by #ShootProofPro Tina J. Smith

#4: Focus on your clients’ comfort.

Tina: “I always love to tell the story of a particular family portrait session I did recently.

“At the start of the session, the husband was not in the mood to capture photos. The kids were upset and fussy, and I could tell the mother was very stressed. I had known from our previous communication that the session may be a challenge as one of the kids was autistic. But I like a challenge!

“We met at a park, and I told them to just let the kids run and have fun and be themselves. The mood completely shifted!

“I made sure to take some shots of just the parents so they could have their own loving images. Later, after the images were delivered, the client let me know that I made their day, and that they had never had a photography experience like that before! She said the whole family felt beautiful, and that I truly captured the best part of who they are.”

#ShootProofPro: 7 Stories for Days When You Think You Suck (Interracial family photographed in an all-white room.)
Photographs by #ShootProofPro Tina J. Smith

#5: Invest in yourself. It’s an investment in your future!

Tina: “Don’t get caught up on what gear you own. Learn and perfect your skills with what you have and as you grow and start making more money, then invest in new gear.

“Keep learning! It’s okay to reach out to other photographers and ask them for insight into the industry. Take the little pieces of information and put them into practice for you!

“Invest (time and money) into yourself! Investing can be learning how to edit better on YouTube, or putting money behind an ad special you’re running for graduation portraits. Investing is so important in growth.”

#ShootProofPro: 7 Stories for Days When You Think You Suck (Young Black woman laughing outside in a white blouse and jeans.)
Photographs by #ShootProofPro Tina J. Smith

#6: Use every tool in your arsenal so you can work less and create more.

Tina: “ShootProof has definitely helped me greatly with my photography business! I am obsessed with the ShootProof automated email campaigns and the contracts and invoices layout. I love how simple it is to connect with the client and have everything in one place – streamlined.

“Photoshop classes at General Assembly helped me grow my skills.

“I also make sure to join Facebook groups for photographers. I’ve found community to be helpful to my success as a photographer! Being able to share insights with the group and ask questions or even being able to hire someone for a project has been so efficient.

#ShootProofPro: 7 Stories for Days When You Think You Suck (White couple walks through a park on an overcast day)
Photographs by #ShootProofPro Tina J. Smith

#7: What does #FocusOnWhatMattersMost means to you? (Do more of that!)

Tina: “For me, it means being intentional with what I’ve been given and be able to grow from that place. When I focus on that intentionality, I am able to serve those around me at a higher capacity.”


Share a story of your own!

Struggle or success – both help make the photography community a healthier place.


Written by ANNE SIMONE | Interview & photographs by TINA J. SMITH 


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