No Limits: How Reframing Your Mindset Can Recharge Your Photography Business with Heather Lahtinen

Entrepreneurs, photographers included, tend to get in their own way. Doubt creeps in, limiting beliefs take over, burnout rears its ugly head, and you’re stuck. Not working the hours you want, not serving the clients you want, not making the money you want.

In today’s episode, I’m chatting with Heather Lahtinen, whose goal and passion is to help photographers make money doing what they love without succumbing to burnout and limiting beliefs. She’s sharing how to discover your limiting beliefs, five tips for avoiding burnout, how to change your mindset around stress, and the three beliefs that will help you take action toward a successful business.

This was such a fun conversation, and I hope that the tips and tools offered in this episode will inspire you to check in on your mindset and believe that the sky’s the limit when it comes to your business.

What’s in this episode:

  • [02:25] How Heather started out, her passion for helping people make money doing what they love, and how she helps photographers get out of their own way 
  • [13:31] How to discover your limiting beliefs, and how to build up your belief in your passions
  • [20:17] The circumstances that keep leading us to burnout and Heather’s five tips for avoiding it
  • [30:07] Why Heather doesn’t use the word “overwhelm,” how to move through stress and take action, and reframing your mindset to tell a different story about what stress means
  • [35:51] Heather’s belief triad that will help you run a successful business, and how these beliefs are interconnected  

Tune in to this episode with Heather Lahtinen to get inspiration for beating burnout, overcoming limiting beliefs, and mastering your mindset for good!

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Meet Heather

If Heather was a superhero, she’d be Wolverine. With her gleaming talons she’ll shred your self-limiting beliefs, freeing you to not only dream big, but to actually achieve massive success.

While it seems like giant finger-blades would be incompatible with a keyboard, Heather’s also an Adobe Certified Expert in Photoshop. No stranger to teaching, she’s helped students with learning photography and growing their business for years and is the founder of Flourish Academy. As a hobby, she collects certifications around mindset work to help her students break through to the next level. Although she comes from the world of wedding and portrait photography, Heather works with photographers in all niches.

Heather and her family live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Connect with Heather

Flourish Academy podcast

Flourish Academy website

Follow Flourish Academy on Facebook

Follow Heather on Instagram

Follow Heather on YouTube

Did this episode with Heather Lahtinen inspire you to practice kicking limiting beliefs to the curb? Check out this episode from Maria Arellano that offers you even more insight on finding alignment in your business!


[00:00:00] Heather Lahtinen And I get why we do it, because we want to escape the stress. But that’s because of how we’re labeling it. And if we didn’t use that label or we just said, Oh, yeah, look, my schedule’s busy this week, I have a lot to do. Oh, I’ve never been so grateful and so alive. You know what, Lisa? I look at my schedule, I have it printed right here. I print it every week. And I think this is the privilege of a lifetime that I get to be able to help all of these people. And is it busy? Yeah. And I’m alive and it’s fun and it keeps me active. I mean, what’s the alternative? You don’t want anything on your schedule? You don’t want anybody to depend on you? That doesn’t sound fun to me. 

[00:00:38] Lisa DiGeso Welcome to the Art and Soul Show, where we dive into heart opening chats on photography, business life and that messy in between. I’m your host, Lisa DiGeso, a mom, a photographer and entrepreneur, and I’ll be sharing honest conversations and advice for photographers with insight on mindset, entrepreneurship and creativity. The goal of this podcast is for you to be able to gain insights and strategies that will get you real results. Because let’s face it, having a photography business can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. This is the place you can go when you need a boost of encouragement, a kick in the pants and inspiration to pick up your camera. This is the art and soul show. Hello, my beautiful friends. Welcome back to the show. I am super excited to dive into today’s conversation with Heather Lahtinen from Flourish Academy. Now, if Heather was a superhero, she would be a wolverine with her gleaming talons. She’ll shred your self-limiting beliefs, bring you not only to dream big, but to achieve massive success too. While it seems like giant finger blades would be incompatible with a keyboard. Heather’s also an Adobe certified expert in Photoshop. No stranger to teaching, she’s helping students with learning photography and growing their business for years and is the founder of Flourish Academy. As a hobby, she collects certifications around mindset work to help her students break through to the next level. Although she comes from the world of wedding and portrait photography, Heather works with photographers in all niches. Without further ado, here is Heather. Welcome. 

[00:02:14] Heather Lahtinen Thank you so much for having me. Lisa. I’m really excited to be here today. 

[00:02:18] Lisa DiGeso I am so excited. I’m so excited to have you. Now can you maybe share who you are and really what you’re super duper passionate about? 

[00:02:25] Heather Lahtinen Yeah, absolutely. So I’m actually celebrating 20 years of being in business. I started my photography business in 2003. I photographed a little bit of everything and then really focused in on weddings for most of my career and also started teaching very early on. So like, let me give you an example. Do you remember when Lightroom was released for the first time? It was actually 2007 was when they came out with a beta version actually the same year. The iPhone. Isn’t that interesting? The iPhone, Yeah. 2007 was a big year. So I started teaching Lightroom in 2007 because there was no training for it. So like there weren’t any online courses. And actually I think that’s the time YouTube was launched as well around that time. Yeah, so that was a big year and I was teaching Photoshop already. I had a certification in Photoshop, I was teaching Lightroom, but I didn’t have any anything to go. Actually, I actually purchased it was free. Lightroom was free in Alpha version before it was released in Beta, started teaching and started mentoring and loved that. And then for a large portion of my career was doing both. And now I focus mainly on teaching photographers. So I have an academy where you can learn photography and posing in Lightroom and Photoshop and all the basics around the craft. And I also have a business program where I help photographers start and grow their business. And one of my absolute favorite things to do is help people make money pursuing their passion and their dream and their love for photography, because I think that gives them amazing freedom in their lives. 

[00:04:00] Lisa DiGeso Absolutely. I love that so much. I think it’s so needed too because it’s so we were talking before we got started, and I think what’s so important and what people don’t really realize is how important it is to your success and growth to have a running mate and a mentor. And how like we were talking a little bit how I was saying, you know, it’s been a little while since I’ve had a mentor and how you can start to feel aimless. And so having that accountability and having that coach just to help you guide you in the direction that and when they know what your dreams are and they know what your goals are, they can help you along the way. So I absolutely love that. And I have been hearing about you amazing things for years, so I’m super excited just to dive into our conversation today. 

[00:04:40] Heather Lahtinen Thank you so much. You know, I will never be without a mentor or business coach or someone someone in my corner that can help me. In fact, I had a conversation with my business coach a few days ago that was like mindblowing, like I had such a breakthrough talking with her. And I thought, Oh my gosh, it’s just so important to have someone that you can talk to to run your ideas by, see where you might be holding yourself back or maybe what’s next for you. So that’s something I actually really recommend for photographers is to find a person or a group of persons that you can connect with and learn from just to help with your next steps in your journey. 

[00:05:17] Lisa DiGeso Yeah, I love that. Now can you share your approach a little bit on how you mentor a photographers really to get out of their own way? Because I think a lot of the time we can really experience that place of stuck when we’re not serving the clients we want to serve, we’re not charging enough and we end up feeling kind of embarrassed about that and really just not sure how to change things. So how do you work with your mentees to work past this. 

[00:05:38] Heather Lahtinen Yeah I actually get this a lot. People come to me and they say, Heather, I just feel really stuck. And I say, okay, what have you tried? And they’ll either say one or two things or nothing and I’ll say, Then where are we stuck If we have if you haven’t tried anything, you have to you have to be able to articulate where do you feel stuck specifically. So for instance, when you say like, you know, we’re not serving the clients we want to serve or charging enough, I would start to ask about that. Where can we look at your ideal client? Have we thought about your target market? Is there somewhere in your business where you need to make a decision? Because that’s often what’s holding people back is they they don’t want to make what they would consider a wrong decision, so they want to make the right one. And so they hold themselves back. And just making a decision can get you unstuck no matter how small. And I like to tell everyone that there’s no such thing as right or wrong decisions. There are just choices that you make. And if the choice isn’t the best in that time, then you make another choice and you continue to move forward. But I think another important aspect of this is to ask yourself, in a perfect world, what would I want my business to look like? So paint a vision for what you could imagine your business to look like in terms of types of clients, what you’re shooting your genre or your niche, how much you’re making, how much you’re working. So balancing. I know you just had an episode about boundaries, balancing your family life and your business life because that can get a little indistinct when you’re when you’re doing both. But I think I would ask someone, you know, where do you feel stuck specifically, and what’s the bigger vision for your business? 

[00:07:16] Lisa DiGeso I’d love that. I think it’s so important and I love that you mentioned about the importance of making a decision. It’s so funny because my husband and I, we’ve been talking a little bit about buying a new motorhome and like we’re upgrading. And I have discovered that I don’t want to be responsible for the decision. 

[00:07:32] Heather Lahtinen Oh, interesting. Why? What do you think’s going on? 

[00:07:35] Lisa DiGeso Well, I was like, I will, because I think if I, if I make the wrong decision and I was like, I feel I put so much pressure that I’m going to make the wrong decision, that I will kind of just defer responsibility of it. And I was like, interesting. Lisa So where else are you doing this in your business and your life? Right? 

[00:07:54] Heather Lahtinen What a great insight. 

[00:07:56] Lisa DiGeso And it’s so true. It’s like if you if you like, I just don’t want to be responsible for making it wrong. And I’m like, but like, what’s the worst case that can happen if you if you make a wrong decision? Just like you said, pivot. 

[00:08:06] Heather Lahtinen And ask yourself, is the decision reversible? 

[00:08:10] Lisa DiGeso Yes. 

[00:08:10] Heather Lahtinen If the decision is reversible or like you can change it, then there is no reason to hesitate. Just go. Like if you purchased the wrong motorhome, could you look at how that works? Could you return it to sell it? You know, I don’t know. Yeah. 

[00:08:26] Lisa DiGeso You know, it’s so silly. Like, but then, like, I just get in my head so much that it’s like. And you get this analysis paralysis where you just like you keep analyzing and it looks like at some point you just kind of just make the decision and like deal with the consequences of it in a good or bad way or like just move on. 

[00:08:42] Heather Lahtinen I feel like, though, you’re probably pretty good at this because you run a very successful business, so you must how did you how did you break through that? 

[00:08:50] Lisa DiGeso You know, honestly, we just talked it out and we just said, okay, well, if we if we choose this, this means X, Y, Z we can’t do or we can do these things. And we made a pros and cons list and then we kind of just came at it together. Instead of me feeling like it was solely my responsibility. It was something that we did collectively for our family and our family team. And it felt a lot easier than just putting all that pressure on myself. With my company, with Milk, with Milky Way. I do have a business partner as well. So I think that we we kind of approach it that way as well, that it’s a collaborative decision. When I’m working on my milk and honey photography business, though, it is solely me. And I do find that because I’m not balancing my ideas or I am not getting the feedback on what I’m ruminating on, I take a lot longer to make decisions. So then I think that comes back to mentorship and think maybe that’s where I need to be seeking some form. 

[00:09:40] Heather Lahtinen Of a business coach where you could run things by, Yeah, you know what I love about your business? I love the play on words with milk and honey photography, and then you created the Milky Way. Like, how perfect is that? How did you come up with that? It’s so creative. 

[00:09:55] Lisa DiGeso Oh, that’s so funny. Thank you. That was. Well, because I was milk and honey, and then my. My business partner, I was doing her maternity session. She was a former photographer as well. And it was like we had a first date. It was like, you know, when you have like a girl crush and you’re super smitten with this friend that you just met and you’re like, you know, you’re going to do amazing things together. You just don’t know what yet. And she was laughing. She’s like, you know, we should you should create like some form of, like online education and call it the Milky Way because it’s your way. And I was like, Well, girl, I don’t have the time to do that. I’m like, Only if we’re 50, 50 business partners and you come do it with me. And then then 12 years later, we’re still rolling. 

[00:10:30] Heather Lahtinen That’s how it got started. Just that conversation. Yeah. You were actually, like, very early on. In this whole online education space, because if I remember correctly, in 2012, it really wasn’t a thing. 

[00:10:45] Lisa DiGeso Yeah, there was there was really no resources. There was, especially in the maternity newborn genre there really. There was maybe ten really well known newborn photographers at that time, and you’d have to fly to go to their workshops. Yes. And to be honest, that was the first time I had ever been away from my son. He was about nine months old. And so I flew to California, went to a workshop, and honestly, I was so full of anxiety being away from my baby that I can’t say that I really took away a huge amount from that workshop because I was in such an emotional state being away from him that I don’t really I didn’t really retain much in the way of information and at the time we really couldn’t video on our phones because we really didn’t have it. 

[00:11:28] Heather Lahtinen What do you want? Our phone? Yeah, we didn’t have. 

[00:11:31] Lisa DiGeso Video on our phones. 

[00:11:32] Lisa DiGeso So I came home going, okay, that was about $8,000 that I just spent. 

[00:11:36] Heather Lahtinen Oh gosh. 

[00:11:36] Lisa DiGeso Okay. I was a little bit horrified that, you know, maybe I lost my money and that broke my heart. And I, I talked to Erin and I was like, I never want another photographer to feel this way. I want them to be able to be able to learn at their own pace and on their own schedule, in their own home, and go back and be able to rewatch it over and over and over and over. And so then we’re like, okay, well, let’s create our first product, which was Illuminate, which is a studio lighting class. And then after that, it’s just kind of grown. And my biggest tip is just keep going. Don’t give up on that either. 

[00:12:08] Heather Lahtinen Art Oh my gosh. That was the thing that was so brilliant, though. You were really, truly a pioneer at that time because and the reason I know this is because I found you around the time that you had started. And I was not teaching newborn photography, and I had sent people to you online because it was like she’s teaching it online. What is happening? This is the craziest thing. That was amazing. 

[00:12:31] Lisa DiGeso It was the wild west, my friend. Yeah. 

[00:12:34] Lisa DiGeso Yeah. Like. 

[00:12:35] Lisa DiGeso Like everything was the Wild West on the internet. 

[00:12:37] Heather Lahtinen Funny. Now, do you think like, you probably had to cobble systems? I mean, I know I did. I started teaching online in 2014 and, um, and I had to cobble systems together and. Don’t you feel like now it’s like, so easy. There’s so many new applications and systems. 

[00:12:52] Lisa DiGeso Well, even even the leaps and bounds that we’re watching our photographer students make when it comes to becoming better artists, business people and their art, like the things that were taking us like years to master and to and to get to. We’re seeing it happen within weeks and months, which I just find incredible. And like Mama Bear pride like, I’m sure you feel that too. Like when you see those transformations happened so quickly for your students, you’re just like, This is why I’m doing this. 

[00:13:20] Heather Lahtinen Yeah, it’s amazing, right? 

[00:13:22] Lisa DiGeso Yeah. 

[00:13:23] Heather Lahtinen So, yeah, I love it. I think that’s great. 

[00:13:26] Lisa DiGeso So I’m going to switch gears and talk about. 

[00:13:27] Lisa DiGeso Limiting beliefs because I know that I have a kajillion. 

[00:13:29] Lisa DiGeso But yeah. 

[00:13:31] Lisa DiGeso I want to talk about maybe finding the limiting beliefs that maybe we’re not aware of because I think it’s pretty impossible to change something that you’re really not even conscious of. So can you maybe share your advice with our listeners on how they can go and start discovering their own limiting beliefs? 

[00:13:46] Heather Lahtinen That is so well said. How in the world could you change something that you’re not even aware of? How do you know? How do you uncover? You don’t know what you don’t know. And this is where a really good group or a coach can come in very handy. So when I’m talking with a new one on one client or someone in our Elevate program, which is for photographers growing a business, I ask them some questions, so I ask them things like What do you believe is possible for you? If you present that question to someone and you just let them talk for a few minutes, you’ll probably hear, I don’t know, maybe 55 limiting beliefs. You’ll just be able to pick up on them and you’ll be able to show them. Oh, that’s so interesting. You just said that that’s not possible in your area. Tell me more about your market or what you think might or might not be possible in your market. You know, someone might look at your newborn photography and think, well, yeah, that works for Lisa because she’s in this market. That won’t work for me. But through conversation with another person, I think it’s very difficult to uncover these on your own. You can I mean, I’ve uncovered a few of my own by asking these questions, but if you have someone to present you with, what do you believe is possible for you? What do you believe about your ability to create what you want? What do you want? Have you even thought about that? Why do you think you have the current results that you have? Oftentimes people are coming to me because they have not reached a result or obtained something that they’re trying to achieve. So I’ll ask them, Well, why do you have these current results and why haven’t you reached that yet? And again, the conversation will open up a litany of limiting beliefs or even just might not even be limiting beliefs, maybe just thoughts that are preventing them from moving forward. And then I’ll ask them things like, What do you need to believe to get the results that you want, you know, if you want. You make six figures in your photography business, for instance. What do you need to believe to get those results? Well, I think, first of all, you need to believe that it can happen in your market, right? If you if you don’t think that can happen in your area, where that can happen for you or how you’re going to create products that even add up to six figures, well then we’re never going to reach that. So we have to understand what’s happening there. And then I ask, you know, what do you need to believe to get the results? And why don’t you believe that yet? What thoughts get in the way? So I just ask a series of questions to understand their thoughts and what they’re thinking, and then I help them to see those thoughts. I always say my job is to take what’s in my client’s brain and just show it to them because they can’t see it. Like you said, it’s unconscious. 

[00:16:20] Lisa DiGeso I love it. You’re like a thought Archeologist, I love it. 

[00:16:24] Heather Lahtinen Oh gosh wait a minute I never thought of that. You’re so clever. Okay, that’s going to be my new tag. I’m writing a new bio, and instead of my blades and talons, I’m going to be talking about mining somebody’s brain. I love that. I love it. 

[00:16:36] Lisa DiGeso You’re discovering all the treasures. 

[00:16:37] Lisa DiGeso In there and they. 

[00:16:38] Lisa DiGeso Need to go. But what I love too is like, we are like we forget that we don’t have to believe all the thoughts that we think. 

[00:16:44] Heather Lahtinen That’s it. 

[00:16:45] Lisa DiGeso And that we are the thinker of the thoughts. 

[00:16:47] Heather Lahtinen Right? Yes. Yes. Don’t believe everything you think. That’s what I tell people. 

[00:16:51] Lisa DiGeso And your thoughts are lies. And the liars, they just keep you safe. 

[00:16:55] Heather Lahtinen Correct. Yes. 

[00:16:56] Lisa DiGeso Yeah. I wrote, like, for years, I remember thinking like, my clients will never pay that. My clients will never pay that. And then it’s like, well, maybe those clients won’t pay that, but some clients will. Choose that thought. 

[00:17:07] Heather Lahtinen Oh, and how would that feel if you choose it? Like if you think that people won’t pay that, how does that feel? 

[00:17:13] Lisa DiGeso Awful. Yeah, I feel stuck. It feels like you’re in that you’ve put you put yourself in this little box that you can’t get out right. And then when you. Yeah. When you like. Well some people will will pay that you’re like all off the lid. 

[00:17:23] Heather Lahtinen You feel hopeful. Exactly. You feel hopeful like there’s possibility. Yeah. But sometimes actually I think that’s a very common one is a lot of people say I don’t think that people will pay that or not for me or not in my market. And I just want to question that. Like how how do we know that? Have we tried it? And if it’s working for someone else, why couldn’t it work for you? So I believe that we have like unlimited potential and capability if we just get out of our own way. 

[00:17:50] Lisa DiGeso What I think is fascinating is like a lot of the time that you have to see it to believe it. And my like homework to our listeners or someone who maybe is having that thought would be like, go search out someone in your area, because I assure you there is someone in your area that is charging like X, Y, Z dollars that you dream of having and go and see that it is possible. Right? Because it is like I remember thinking that for years. And then this boudoir photographer, Roz, she’s incredible, popped up and she’s just charging like $5,000 a session and she is booked to the nines. And then after that I was like, Oh, it’s possible if possible. In my area, these are the same these only the same clients would book a newborn session and a maternity session for that level, right? That’s right. Your brain’s just a trickster. 

[00:18:38] Heather Lahtinen Hey, let me ask you, though, what do you think about those circumstances where you can’t find someone like like, okay, perfect. You. Yeah. You were the pioneer in putting newborn photography online training, I don’t think. Did you? I mean, you don’t really have an example of how, but. 

[00:18:54] Lisa DiGeso We didn’t have an example. 

[00:18:56] Heather Lahtinen So what did you do? How did you do that? How did you break through? Like, this is possible. We can make this work and it can be pretty awesome. 

[00:19:03] Lisa DiGeso I think it was honestly like a trust fall with the universe. 

[00:19:06] Lisa DiGeso Like, honestly. 

[00:19:08] Lisa DiGeso I think it was just at the point where my business partner were. We were like, This would be fun. And I think when we approached it with a delight and a hope and actually not even a thought that we were going to fail, we were just like, Well, we’re going to do something and something’s going to happen. And if something happens that’s amazing, it doesn’t matter if it’s ten students or 2000 students, like something is going to happen and it’s going to be incredible. And I think because we went in with that. 

[00:19:34] Heather Lahtinen Curiosity. 

[00:19:35] Lisa DiGeso And curiosity and maybe there wasn’t a whole lot of fear around it. There was more of just like, what do we matter what we’re going to do? We were going to learn something, so let’s just try it. 

[00:19:44] Heather Lahtinen I think that’s great for people who maybe want to try something different or new. If they cannot find the proof in their area that you can just drop into a belief that I’m going to get really curious, I’m going to have fun. And if this works out great, and if not, I’ll learn something, then I’ll do something else. Like there’s nothing on the line here. I always tell my clients, you are not going to get mauled by a bear if you put some newborn videos online. So, I mean, you’ll just you’ll figure something out and it will just be fun. 

[00:20:11] Lisa DiGeso The only bear you’re going to get mauled by is one in your head. 

[00:20:14] Heather Lahtinen Oh, right, right, right, right. 

[00:20:17] Lisa DiGeso Let’s chat a little bit about burnout, because burnout is such a real thing in our industries. And I know our listeners. And truth be told, I also have like extreme burnout periods where the last thing I want to do is work on my business. So what advice do you have maybe for avoiding even getting into burnout? 

[00:20:33] Heather Lahtinen Oh my gosh, this is so crazy that you’re bringing this up because I just recently did a training on this and I don’t know if it’s like this for newborns. I would assume not. But do you guys have a busy season? Like family photographers are so busy in the fall? 

[00:20:48] Lisa DiGeso I would say newborns are typically year round. And I would say like for me, I type. I’ve always taken summers off. So I try to like load my my spring and my fall. And other than that, I take off usually December and I take off July and August because I need to be with my my human. 

[00:21:04] Heather Lahtinen So that’s amazing. First of all, congratulations on setting those boundaries. So I was working with a bunch of senior and wedding portrait family type photographers last fall and they, they came to this call Lisa, like glassy eyed hypnotists so burned out. And I said, Hey, maybe we should talk about this and explore this a little further. So I said, I have five ways that you can look at this. Number one is you need to acknowledge that it’s a problem. If you are exhausted, just admit it and don’t say things like I’ll be okay, or this is just temporary. Well, it is just temporary, but, you know, just acknowledge this is an issue for you. Secondly, ask yourself, why is this behavior repetitive? Because my guess is that people who are burnt out tend to do it repetitively before they figure out sort of how to unlock the secret to preventing it. At least that was the case for me. I was I was burnt out for a couple of years before I woke up. You know, I was just like I was just working and working and working and then like, oh, I need to do something about this. Thirdly, I think people should set their schedule and determine their priorities ahead of time by scheduling their free time first, like you just mentioned. And it’s funny you say that about the summer, because one of the first things I did early on in my business after being burnt out was I scheduled December off. I said, I’m not. I had small children at the time and I wanted to participate in the magic of Christmas. I wanted to bake cookies, I wanted to go to Santa’s workshop and do all of the things. But typically I was just exhausted and I was like getting last minute orders out. So that year I decided I’m going to do whatever it takes. I’m going to protect December, so schedule your free time first, but also know your values ahead of time so that you can make decisions quickly. So for example, I always say I know what I want, I know who I am, I know what I want. All of my decisions are made before I encounter them. So if you know what, if you know that you know your kids have activities and those are really important to you, then obviously that’s the priority and you’re going to mark those things off in your calendar. And when and if there’s a conflict, you’ll do your best to change it. Or occasionally, you know, things just come up. But if you know who you are and what you want your business to look like and you have that vision, all of those decisions should be made ahead of time because we get ourselves into trouble by making decisions like reacting to someone needs something. And that leads right into my number four, which is pause before you commit and ask yourself, Why do I feel the need to say yes in this moment when I know I should be saying no? So if you’re setting your schedule like newborns, I would assume, look what’s typically 3 to 6 months. 

[00:23:55] Lisa DiGeso I would say 3 to 4 months in advance for me. 

[00:23:58] Heather Lahtinen Okay. Yeah. So, you know, you know, several months ahead of time what your schedule looks like in your busiest season. What were you most comfortable taking or where did you cross a line? 

[00:24:08] Lisa DiGeso Oh, probably about 15 newborns plus family sessions a month. So I was shooting probably around 40 sessions a month on top of other things. Yeah, I was a I’m a reformed people pleaser. 

[00:24:20] Heather Lahtinen Wait, that means you’re working every day and sometimes twice a day you’re shooting. 

[00:24:24] Lisa DiGeso Oh, yeah. And then up all night editing and, like, it was a hot mess. 

[00:24:28] Heather Lahtinen What do you think was driving that behavior? 

[00:24:30] Lisa DiGeso The need for recognition and the need to feel relevant and popular. It was just this this need that I wasn’t being fulfilled internally, I think. And I think once I said, okay, like I can pass the torch, doesn’t really matter. Guess what? Like I’m still an amazing photographer. I can do less of it and. 

[00:24:50] Heather Lahtinen People still like me. 

[00:24:52] Lisa DiGeso People still like me. Yeah. And like maybe the less of me that I show is, like, better, Better. Maybe it’s more special because it’s so infrequent. 

[00:25:00] Heather Lahtinen Oh, right. So you just reframed it. Yeah. Yeah. After being exhausted, I’m sure. 

[00:25:05] Lisa DiGeso Yeah. Basically, I want to throw my camera in the river. Yeah, I was just done and I kind of just got to the point that the pain of staying outweighed the change. The pain of change, Right? So sometimes you just got to get to that point to move on. 

[00:25:22] Heather Lahtinen I think you’re right. Sometimes you don’t know what your capacity is till you cross the line. Which leads perfectly to my final point, number five, which is schedule your time off and honor that commitment to yourself and trust yourself. Trust yourself. You don’t have to take on every newborn in your city. I mean, there are other photographers that. Well, I used to think, you know, from wedding from a wedding standpoint, I can’t possibly photograph all of the weddings in Pittsburgh. That’s where I live. So it’s okay to say no and maybe have a Saturday off in the summer. I just really struggled with that. I would typically take any Saturday I could because I thought, well weddings are only on Saturdays in early summer. I better make hay when the sun shines. You know, it’s I have this crazy work ethic which serves me, but also drives me into the ground. Yeah. 

[00:26:06] Lisa DiGeso It’s I like, honestly, as a wedding photographer, I don’t know how you did it with weekends. 

[00:26:11] Heather Lahtinen Oh, it was something. 

[00:26:12] Lisa DiGeso And especially with, like, little ones and stuff to like. And when they start to be like school age and you’re just like, Oh my gosh. Like, it’s hard. It’s hard. 

[00:26:21] Heather Lahtinen Yeah, it was challenging. I thought, Well, okay, this is what I signed up for. I love weddings and they’re on Saturdays and that’s great. And when the kids were really little, it was okay. They went with my parents, they had fun adventures, and I thought it would get easier as they got older. But it was the opposite. It actually got harder because of what you just said. They started to have things and then I started to miss things. And for many years I was perfectly fine with that. I would miss birthday parties, graduation parties, retirement, everything. But the first year I missed a funeral, I was like, What is happening? I mean, you know, when somebody hired weddings by Heather, they wanted Heather, right? So I photographed the wedding on the day of a funeral and. Oh, that was. Yeah, that was rough. I just didn’t see any way around that. Weddings are a commitment, you know, like a newborn. You could hopefully. Maybe we could bump all of this. Yeah. Yeah, but weddings don’t work that way, so. Yeah. And I worked all those Saturdays, and I loved it. And then it just wasn’t my favorite anymore to commit all my Saturday. So I just. You know how. You know how I slowed down. I raise the prices significantly. 

[00:27:25] Lisa DiGeso Significantly. I know. 

[00:27:28] Heather Lahtinen That was fun. 

[00:27:28] Lisa DiGeso Well, I’m on a sabbatical this year, but I’ve I’ve read on my website and I quadrupled my pricing so. 

[00:27:35] Heather Lahtinen So if they call this. Yeah. You’re happy. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. 

[00:27:39] Lisa DiGeso Perfect. But I’m not shooting this year anyway, so all good. 

[00:27:42] Heather Lahtinen So good Will. So if somebody does, what will you do? 

[00:27:45] Lisa DiGeso Well, if I really want to shoot right now, I, I don’t want to do it for money. I don’t want to do it as my photography business right now. If what I’ve actually done is I’ve created a model call list and so they can get on my model call list. And if I need a model for whatever educational content I’d like to create at this time. Oh, smart, I get it’s like a win win, right? So then they get images, but then I still control what I’m doing and how I’m using the material and my time. So right now that’s just where I’m at. 

[00:28:13] Heather Lahtinen So my gosh, you’re so smart. That’s a really, really smart approach. So you’re able to sort of still offer your services to people, but in a way that works for you. 

[00:28:21] Lisa DiGeso Yeah. Yeah. And what I’m really finding though, too, is I’m able to it’s just different because there’s you get to like I have my clients or my models tell me the reason why I should be making them. And so you hear all these incredible stories like. 

[00:28:35] Heather Lahtinen Pick me, pick me. 

[00:28:35] Lisa DiGeso And I’m just like, Oh my God, can I pick everybody? Because my heart right? So and then so I’ve got someone else helping me for those. Yeah, Yeah. Otherwise I will say yes to everybody. 

[00:28:46] Heather Lahtinen Would you refer out or do you have an associate photographer? 

[00:28:50] Lisa DiGeso Absolutely. No. Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s really so important to be able to refer locally because we’re like, there’s room for everybody. Like there’s room for everybody. Like, I wish everybody like, massive success. And I’m sure you do too. Like, it’s it’s not a competition. We can all win in. The table’s big enough. We’ll just pull up extra chairs like it’s all good. 

[00:29:11] Heather Lahtinen I love that. 

[00:29:12] Lisa DiGeso So, yeah, I think community and collaboration is so, so important. And it’s but like when we started in the industry, it was not like that. It like it really felt dog eat dog, right. 

[00:29:23] Heather Lahtinen Cutthroat. Yes. Yes it was. And a funny thing was there was only like ten of us. I don’t even know how we were managing all of these weddings. 

[00:29:32] Lisa DiGeso Like, it’s so crazy, right? And yeah, no, I just my I really feel like hopefully at the end of my career in the photography industry, I left it better than I found it. 

[00:29:41] Heather Lahtinen Oh, my God, I like it. Oh, my God. Lisa, listen to my number one rule. My number one rule is to leave people better than I found them. Oh, man. I talk about it all the time. I say leave people better than you found them. That’s what that’s exactly. And I love the way you said that. Just about the community and the industry as a whole. Even if you were to step out, you would leave it better than you found it. Love that. Mhm. Right. Yeah. 

[00:30:07] Lisa DiGeso Well, thank you. So let’s talk about overwhelm. Because that’s a huge topic we hear from our listeners. And so what advice do you have maybe for moving through overwhelm and actually taking action? 

[00:30:16] Heather Lahtinen Oh my gosh. Number one, I do not permit anyone in my groups to use the word overwhelm. And here’s why. Overwhelm suggests that you are about to have some sort of neurological meltdown or incident like overwhelm is complete shutdown of the system. And the only thing that you can do is like. Go in a dark room for days, you know, and do nothing to recover. So I always ask people if they could please rephrase that. And so then they’ll usually say stress. And I’ll say, okay, I can I can we can manage with that word. So I drop the word, so stop you. Actually, I have many certifications and different modalities for life coaching, and two of which are NLP neuro linguistic programing and CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy. And this really matters. Yeah. So it’s not just like, Oh, don’t use the word no, it’s like, really don’t use that word. Because the one time I use that word, I literally ended up having a seizure and was like, I woke up to paramedics working on me in my closet of my home. My son had to call 911. I was unresponsive. And it I woke up and she’s like working on me. And I’m like, I think I shut down. 

[00:31:29] Lisa DiGeso Oh my God. The system just said, Yeah, reset. 

[00:31:32] Heather Lahtinen We both systems shut down. So I tell my clients because many of my clients were with me. I mean, like, you know, metaphorically with me in my in my classes. When that happened a few years ago, I actually had a brush in my hair because, you know, I have standards. I was brushing my hair before I meltdown. But so I say to them, I’m like, unless you’re on the floor seizing out, I don’t want to hear the word overwhelmed, so stop using it. So then they’ll say, Well, I’m feeling stressed. And I’ll say, okay, I’m just curious, are you stressed or do you just have a lot of things to do? And they’ll say, Well, yeah, I have a lot to do. I have so many things to do. You have no idea. You know, I wear all of these hats. I have to do all of these things and they’ll just rattle off a million things and I’ll say to them, Okay, what exactly do you have to do? Like, just tell me, like, high level, what are they? And I actually worked with a client on this just a few days ago. She give me four things, four, and I was like, Did you know it was four or? And she said, Oh my gosh, no. I thought it was like a million. And I said, How does that feel to know you have four things? Not so a minute ago. You’re like, I’m in complete overwhelm. I’m going to shut down. And I’m like, You have four things to do. And she laughed. Yeah, that’s where you had said this earlier. Like you’re your brain is just going to always say your brain is going to brain like a verb. Brain on your brain. Yeah, Yeah. It’s going to just catastrophize everything because you’re feeling stressed out because you have a lot to do. Okay. So I wonder if you just said that, if you just said, I have a lot to do. Okay. Welcome to being a human. I mean, yeah, Yeah. Everybody has a lot to do, but your thoughts about how much you have to do dictate your feelings. So if you’re thinking I’m in overwhelm, your body shuts down. You end up on the floor, as I have proven. But if you say to yourself, Oh, I have a lot to do and I trust myself and I’m managing it, and this is a busy season, and guess what? Seasons change. So it’s always going to be temporary. So I tell myself I am at peace with this season because I know it is temporary. So you look at your schedule. The client I was working with yesterday, she like had to prove it to me. She’s like, No, Heather, Seriously, Heather, look at my schedule. She pulled up her calendar to prove to me and I said, Okay, that’s this week. What about next week? And she’s like, Oh, it’s not as bad. And I’m like, Oh, so you have to get through a week. Yeah. Okay. So what’s with all the arm waving and the catastrophizing about? So drop the use of the word and just acknowledge that. And by the way, when you’re an entrepreneur especially, there’s always going to be things to do, like it’s never done now. So what if that was just okay? And what if there actually wasn’t a problem here? But it was just like, okay, yeah, I have a lot to do this week or this season. Whether that’s a month or a couple of months, like for senior wedding photographers, there’s a season, okay, it’s busy and then it won’t be busy and everything. Everything works itself out. So maybe just tell yourself a different story about what that means. 

[00:34:25] Lisa DiGeso And so then instead of shutting down, you just say, okay, well, I’ve a lot to do, so maybe I should just get it done. 

[00:34:30] Heather Lahtinen Maybe get to just get to work instead of the bad thing about it. Right? 

[00:34:34] Lisa DiGeso Right. Because you’re just indulging in your overwhelm or your your stress, Right? 

[00:34:39] Heather Lahtinen Oh, my gosh. That’s actually something we learned in coach training was like when people say overwhelm, they’re indulging in it. That’s exactly what they said. It’s an indulgent emotion because it makes you feel justified. Like, Oh, I have all these things you don’t understand. I’m just overwhelmed. I just won’t permit the word. 

[00:34:56] Lisa DiGeso I’m overwhelmed. So I will scroll on TikTok for 5 hours now. Yeah, I’m going to indulge in that. Yeah. Guilty. 

[00:35:03] Heather Lahtinen Right? Right. And I get why we do it, because we want to escape the stress, but that’s because of how we’re labeling it. And if we didn’t use that label or we just said, Oh, yeah, look, my schedule’s busy this week, I have a lot to do. Oh, I’ve never been so grateful and so alive. You know what, Lisa? I look at my schedule, I have it printed right here. I print it every week. And I think this is the privilege of a lifetime that I get to be able to help all of these people. And is it busy? Yeah. And I’m alive and it’s fun and it keeps me active. I mean, what’s the alternative? You don’t want anything on your schedule? You don’t want anybody to depend on you? That doesn’t sound fun. 

[00:35:38] Lisa DiGeso That’s not fun. No, and even like adding in, like, your escape time into your schedule. So you’re like, you have your time to aimlessly scroll, but you only have like maybe 25 minutes to do it. 

[00:35:48] Heather Lahtinen Yes, I know. It’s like some boundaries for yourself. Right? 

[00:35:51] Lisa DiGeso Right. So can you share with us your number one secret to growing your business that no one talks about? 

[00:35:58] Heather Lahtinen Oh, my gosh, I love this. I came up with this. Well, let me back up and say that when I started mentoring photographers early on, I was really curious because I would have two photographers that were both really talented and one would succeed and one wouldn’t. And I couldn’t quite understand that. And then I started to notice that there were some photographers that were good, but they would do really well. And then I would meet a photographer who was like an exceptional artist and struggle, and I just couldn’t make sense of this in my head, Lisa. So I was like, Well, if you’re good, you should be successful, period. But they were so really started to dive in like, what’s going on there? And I came up with a training I call the belief triad and it’s a triangle. And there are three things that I know you have to have in place to run a successful business. And the reason that I’ll know if somebody doesn’t have this is because they’re not getting the results that they want. So if you don’t have the results that you want, it’s in one of these three belief categories. It’s either your belief in yourself, your belief in your product or service, or your belief in your client. So these are on the triangle. You as a photographer, your product and service and your client. If you have all of those in alignment, things will be so much easier for you. But if you’re if you, for instance, don’t believe, well, my gosh, if you don’t believe in you, how in the world is anyone else going to believe in you? And why would I hire an insecure photographer who says, Oh, I’m just new, I’m just new. I’m not that good yet. I don’t know what I’m doing. Okay, Why would I hire you? And by the way, I don’t think people are saying that out loud. No, but it doesn’t matter, because if you’re saying it to yourself or if you believe it, it comes out in everything that you share in your marketing. Yeah. So you have to have that unwavering belief in yourself, your product and service. But let me tell you something so interesting. When I was putting together this training, I was like, This is embarrassing. This is not this is not shed good light on me because I thought, Oh, I’ve got this. I am the one putting the training together. Of course, I’m like, so solid on this belief triad. I didn’t quite have the results I wanted yet, so I had to ask myself, like, Heather, where are we lacking here? What I realized was I didn’t have full 100% belief in my client. Oh, and what that looks like is number one. People are ready, willing and able to pay no matter what your number. I don’t care if your number is $150 or if your number is $5,000, you have to 100% believe that people are ready, willing and able to pay and that you’re in demand. They’re out there. And also, you have to believe that all of these are interconnected, You know, so it’s not just like one separately. You have to believe that you will deliver photos to your client that your client will love. Yes. That’s a belief in your client that you’re in. Your client has belief in you. So it goes both ways. And if you believe that your photos are great and your client will love them, I promise you your client will love them independent of the quality of the image. What are your thoughts on that? The belief triad, I call it. 

[00:39:04] Lisa DiGeso I love this so much. I love this so much because I think at the at the heart of it, for me, it’s always been the belief in myself. Mm. And it’s so funny how that does, it does trickle down into all the other things like you need to have that, that alignment and when you do like that is where the magic happens and I think that’s brilliant. I love it so much. 

[00:39:24] Heather Lahtinen Thank you. Thank you. And so I delivered this training inside of Elevate, and I had one photographer tell me she watched it like five or six times. And she said, every time I watched it, I shifted something. And then she comes back and says, I had my highest sale ever. And then another person said, I doubled my sales and I like this stuff. It wasn’t that there was some new fancy strategy or marketing plan. It was like instantaneous. They just dropped in to this belief and they they understood with it. And then there’s some of us that are still working on, like fully believing in ourselves. And that’s totally fine. You know, let us help you so that you can generate this belief in yourself and your product and service and your client. But if you don’t have the results you want, then we just need to look at one of these areas in, you know, and always building on one another. 

[00:40:14] Lisa DiGeso Totally. I love that It’s so true because there have been times where I’m like, I’ve got my belief in myself, I’ve got my belief in my client, but the product like it. It’s like I don’t trust my print lab or I don’t trust the albums or I don’t trust that these are going to look the same as they do on my computer. So you hold back. Yes, Right. And that’s it. Right. So it’s just it makes so much sense when you have all this in alignment, when you’re when you’re confident in all those areas, everything kind of comes together. 

[00:40:39] Heather Lahtinen Yeah, You put it all out there. You’re right. That’s a great point. And when one of those is missing, you hold back. 

[00:40:44] Lisa DiGeso Yeah, I love that. Interesting. I love that. So, are you ready for our lightning round? 

[00:40:49] Heather Lahtinen I am. 

[00:40:50] Lisa DiGeso Okay. Most luxurious vacation you’ve ever been on. 

[00:40:54] Heather Lahtinen Oh, gosh, That’s an interesting. Can I ask you. Well, how do you define luxurious? 

[00:40:59] Lisa DiGeso That’s a really good question, actually. No one has ever asked me that. How do I define luxury? Honestly, I love fancy. I’m a fancy gal. I love being spoiled. Like, I think we stayed at a really high end hotel in Cancun and at the Moon Palace a few years ago and just loved it. 

[00:41:20] Heather Lahtinen I’ve been there. 

[00:41:21] Lisa DiGeso It was lovely. 

[00:41:22] Heather Lahtinen Oh, my gosh. Yeah. Craig and I went there before we decided to get pregnant with our daughter, who is now 20 years old. 

[00:41:29] Lisa DiGeso I love it. I love it. That’s great. Yeah, we went there a few years ago. 

[00:41:33] Heather Lahtinen Oh, my gosh. 

[00:41:34] Lisa DiGeso I think I do. I love being spoiled. I love like we stayed at the penthouse in the Bellagio, which was really fancy. 

[00:41:41] Lisa DiGeso Yeah. 

[00:41:42] Lisa DiGeso Yeah, it was really fancy. And just, like, eating mussels. And I just love fancy stuff. I do. I’m a fancy girl, right? 

[00:41:48] Heather Lahtinen I love that about you. I appreciate that. So a couple of years ago, in 2018, our daughter turned 16. So we have this thing. We have two children and Ella was turning 16. And we said to her, You can pick anywhere in the world you want to go. So we didn’t we’re not buying you car, we’re not giving you gifts, but you can pick a vacation wherever you would like to go. And she picked Italy, so she wanted to go to Rome. And so we planned this amazing three week vacation. Now, I’ve got to say, some parts of this vacation I would not define as luxurious, but there was one. One villa we stayed we stayed this private villa in the Tuscan countryside. And it was outside of all of the cities and towns, away from all the tours. It had this really fancy chef and this beautiful pool overlooking the mountains in the vineyards. And it was just amazing. And in that moment, I just felt like a million bucks, you know, like, this is just the most. 

[00:42:45] Lisa DiGeso I’ve arrived. 

[00:42:47] Heather Lahtinen Yes. Yeah, Yeah. We had a private driver for that, that particular part of our trip and got to do these tours. And it was amazing. Now, listen, I want to balance out by saying some parts of this trip, like I mentioned a moment ago, were not exactly luxurious, where you’re like trekking through Rome or Florence in the back of a taxi that’s dirty and you don’t understand what’s happening. And it’s confusion everywhere. But that portion of that vacation was really amazing. 

[00:43:12] Lisa DiGeso I love that So good. What’s your favorite movie? 

[00:43:16] Heather Lahtinen Favorite movie? Favorite movie? Well, one that stops me if I see it on TV all the time is The Princess Bride. I know every word of that movie. I’ve watched it like a life. Yeah, I know. I’m your wife. Yeah, that’s just a classic movie I could just watch over and over. 

[00:43:35] Lisa DiGeso There’s this one scene my husband all the time is like, Anybody want a peanut? 

[00:43:41] Heather Lahtinen I know every word I somebody brings. If somebody says something in it, I can relate it to The Princess Bride. It’s just fun. 

[00:43:49] Lisa DiGeso Oh, I think that’s mine, too. 

[00:43:50] Lisa DiGeso That’s so funny. Oh, so good. 

[00:43:53] Lisa DiGeso Oceans or mountains. And why? 

[00:43:55] Heather Lahtinen Definitely oceans. Because sand and sun and warmth. So I live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which I think is like second or third in gray days per year. Like we don’t see a lot of sun in the summer. Yes, of course. But like this time of year, this is ironic that I’m saying this because actually Sunny today, but usually in the spring, we just it’s a lot of gray and dreary day. So I love I love the mountains. I think they’re beautiful and I love to visit. But the beach. Oh, my gosh. And a book on the beach, sitting under an umbrella. Love it all day long. I love it. 

[00:44:30] Lisa DiGeso So what are you most grateful for in this season of life? 

[00:44:33] Heather Lahtinen That’s a challenging question because. I wake up every day. This is the truth. I wake up every day thinking, Oh my gosh, I am so grateful. I have so much gratitude. I’ve been married to my amazing husband for 24 years. We’ve two great kids. Business is good. My best business friend, Nicole Begley and I are growing our businesses together. And we have mutual friends, you and I, with her. And I just think, gosh, I don’t like to use the word lucky because, you know, we worked really hard to get here. But I’m very, very grateful just for almost everything. And this season, it’s just a really good time in my life right now. 

[00:45:16] Lisa DiGeso So where could our listeners learn more from you? 

[00:45:19] Heather Lahtinen I would love if you would check out the Flourish Academy podcast and you can go to flourish.Academy/podcast to see those episodes. But I also have a lot of photography training on the website and I just redid everything hey can ask you. Side note Tech question What platform are you using to deliver your courses right now? 

[00:45:39] Lisa DiGeso WordPress. 

[00:45:40] Heather Lahtinen Oh, okay. Well, I had been using a plug in for wordpress, I’m now in Kajabi. But I just recently redid everything from WordPress over to Kajabi. And so if you go to flourish.Academy/podcast, you’ll find those episodes and all of the trainings that we offer. I also have a YouTube channel with a ton of training videos, so I would love of people could check that out. 

[00:46:01] Lisa DiGeso So good. Well, I love to end my interviews just with this last question, and it is what are you currently curious about or artistically curious about? 

[00:46:11] Heather Lahtinen I artistically curious about. I’m curious about so many things. I love. So I read like crazy. I read all of the books, Get me all the books. I just want to learn and understand human potential and capacity and capability and helping people break through. So I love all of that type of mindset stuff. From a photography standpoint. Gosh, these mirrorless cameras to me are just so amazing and so, so fun. I have a partnership with a local camera store. Why am camera’s close to me and we work together, and so I get to play with a lot of new gear and that’s so fun. I’m actually a mechanical engineer by trade, so technically I love all of that gear stuff. Yeah. So and to be honest, I consider myself like a, like a tech person before creative artists. Like, yeah, like I have myself in that category. So I love new gear. I just love learning. I love teaching. I love this. I love meeting new people. I just, you know, I walk around all the time saying, I’m just open. I’m just open to learning and creating and opportunities and then things just happen. 

[00:47:19] Lisa DiGeso I love it so much. Well, Heather, thank you so much for joining me today. I know I’m going to actually have to invite you back. This was such an incredible conversation and I know our listeners are just going to love you. 

[00:47:30] Heather Lahtinen Thank you. 

[00:47:32] Lisa DiGeso Oh, my beautiful friends, I hope you loved this conversation just as much as I did. I am sending you so much of my light and my love today and every single day. We’ll see you next time. Thank you so much for listening to the Art and Soul show. If you’re the kind of person that likes helping others, please share this podcast with your photographer friends. Sharing is caring, and it’s our mission to help as many photographers create a business and life they are truly passionate about. I’m here to support you on your journey, and if you have any questions, topics, or guests you would love to hear from, please shoot me a note at and we may even feature your question in an upcoming episode. 

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