Updated: May 10
I wasn't always soft or kind toward myself. I was also unsure I could replicate the magic of virtual photoshoots while also teach people how to shoot their own self portraits—basically everything I do now with The GoldenBrand Studio. You should offer virtual photoshoots, they said, share your healing journey with self portraits, they suggested. All the while I’m thinking, I couldn’t possibly do that. I've never been so happy to be wrong. Here are my 3 lessons learned from The GoldenBrand Studio,
I'm not new to bootstrapping a business or taking the road less traveled. I've done it all — from founding a catering company to launching a clothing line to supplying private jets with my secret chocolate truffle recipe. Basically, if it sparks my curiosity, I'll learn everything there is to know. My jigsaw-piece-shaped career path taught me three things — don't rule anything out, let your future self handle your future problems, and know that there is always a larger picture than the one staring you in the face.
Don't rule anything out
My experience with photography has been...complicated. After a short stint as a model, I realized I wasn't very good. The photographers I worked with were not used to posing non-models (or newbies), and I realized I could do a better job behind the camera. (Cue the closure of my clothing line, a pandemic, and a move to a remote coastal town in Oregon...) I began mentoring business owners, helping them move their services online and hone their branding. I also shot products for Etsy shop owners and started getting requests from clients to take their photos too. Since flight hopping wasn't appealing, I got creative. I shot my first two clients over Zoom and while the pictures were fabulous, I still wasn't convinced I could make a business out of it. This isn't a thing, it's too niche —nobody will get it.
I sat on the idea for over a year, stewing over my ability to consistently replicate the magic of those first sessions
again and again.
Let your future self worry about your future problems
Meanwhile, I was on a personal journey of healing, discovery, and growth through the magic of self portraits. I'd skillfully avoided the camera since the humbling modeling experiences of my 20's and at the age of 47 I was tired of avoiding myself, my own harsh judgement, and my self-criticism.
Lisa Haukom founder of The Golden Brand Co
Each day I'd trudge to the back of the house, tripod in tow, to sit alone for the camera far away from the bewildered stares of my family. I did this for 30 days. I sat for the back camera (not the selfie side) and I posted them online (for accountability). Around day 15 I started to create playlists for these sessions and pull images on Pinterest to help inspire and anchor me.
My daily trudge had become a skip.
See ya, I'd tell my family with a huge grin on my face. I was finally recognizing the face in photos as my very own and my community was feeling the shift too. What's your secret?
There is always a larger picture than the one staring you in the face
Fast forward to today. While zoom shoots are long gone, the virtual aspect is here to stay. I've partnered with The Shutter Studio app to deliver an exceptional, interactive virtual studio experience to my clients all over the globe. I've also launched the Self Portrait Studio community to make beautiful photography accessible for everyone through the art of self portraits.
I believe in real, lasting shifts, not just looking good for photos
I still have those moments of self-doubt and fear just like you. I have days when my body feels more like an enemy than a friend, days when sitting for a portrait is the last thing I feel like doing, I get it. I'm right there with you, going through the high highs, low lows and the in-between.
I didn't start The Golden Brand Studio to get rid of those feelings though.
I started it to help us all be better at recognizing them and moving forward through them. Fear or feeling awkward in front of the camera isn't inherently good or bad — it's only information. And it's what you do with that information that matters most. It's my mission to help you feel good. I want to help you realize you already have all you need at your fingertips, and to help you foster empathy for yourself as well as a healthy curiosity and the happiness of being proven wrong.
Lisa Haukom founder of The Golden Brand Co