The Power of Community Amongst Architectural Photographers

The Power of Community Amongst Architectural Photographers

Business Commentary News

Like many, I started my photography business without a clue of where I wanted to take it, without a support system, and quite frankly, without enough cash in my bank accounts. I was a frustrated artist in a dead-end job, looking to create a brighter future for myself. I also wanted to enjoy what I did, rather than dread every morning commute that led me to a cubicle. I’m pretty sure you’ll hear some variation of this from most professional photographers. Is your story similar to that?

Even though most of us start out overwhelmed, broke, and alone – over time our businesses get stronger and we build our own community of colleagues to support us along the way. Our community, or support system, is that group of fellow photographers who become friends and confidantes. They’re the ones we ask dumb questions to, the ones who listen to us vent about a tough client situation, and the ones who become invaluable resources when we need information. For most of us, this happens naturally over social media, in online groups, or at in-person events. For some of us, though, it’s not so easy.

This was part of the motivation behind The Grove Studio, which you can learn more about on our website. After nearly three years of leading The Grove Studio and talking to women all over the world, I’m still amazed at the messages I receive from them. 

This notion of not feeling isolated is why The Grove Studio is not only a strong online community, but we’re taking it to in-person events so that women can connect face-to-face! Our first ever exclusive retreat will do just that, and the connections from it promise to be amazing.

It’s clearly important that we find our community for support, but why is it so important and how do we find them?

The Value of Your Community

I can’t stress enough how important it is to find your community – “your people”. Let’s start with the more concrete reason… resources. Having a community that you can turn to when you need something can save you loads of time and headaches. Whether your computer is doing something funky, you need a referral for a retoucher, or you want to know how others do something on their taxes… your people can help. When it’s not a quick Google search away, you can probably head to your community and type out a call for help to get just what you need. Honestly, this not only saves you time and headaches, but a lot of money, too!

Another way it helps your business is by connecting you to more people. Sometimes you need a referral for an assistant to help you out. Other times you’re looking to help others out during slow periods in your own business. Maybe you have an inquiry come in for a different location and want to send them a good referral. All of these situations are perfect for jumping into whatever Facebook group, group text chain, or emails you have and asking your community for help.

Running a business is never easy, but running a creative business can feel even tougher. We have to deal with more attempts to negotiate (nobody ever asks for a lower rate from a plumber!), and a lot of our confidence as an artist gets challenged if a client is less than thrilled. For women, we often have a bigger load of stress that we’re juggling in addition to our business, too. Kids, households, aging parents, pets, meals… we’re managing it all! So your support system, whether it’s one really good photographer friend or a whole group, is so important in helping us cope. If we need a pep talk, a brainstorming session, people to vent to, or just someone who gets all the stresses, we go to our business BFFs and spill it all.

The last way that our support system helps is probably my favorite – sticky situations. We’ve all had those horrible moments with clients where we just don’t know what to do. It can be because we messed something up, because our client didn’t communicate something to us, or because it’s just not a good fit with that client. Whatever the case, we’ve all been in awkward or sticky client situations, right? This is where I run to my community and spill all the details (minus names, of course). I go for advice and sometimes just to see if I’m the crazy one or the client is! Let me tell you, those brainstorming sessions of what to do in those weird situations are priceless! 

Who to connect with

Beyond finding fellow photographers, it’s important that we find fellow photographers who we relate closely to. Sometimes we just find someone we click with – we crack the same smartass jokes, or we find ourselves responding with the same comments often, or we have similar views about something in our profession. This can take time, though, so let’s look at some ways that you can start to narrow down who you may want to start connecting with to create your support system!

A great place to start is online groups because it automatically puts you with others who shoot architectural photography. Mike Kelley has a large Facebook group for anyone who’s taken any of his courses, and that’s a great one to start with! 

Beyond being in the same profession, I recommend looking for photographers who are in or near your area geographically. This helps in a few ways. First, there’s a chance you can meet in person and really bond. If you hang out with someone in person, there’s a good chance you’ll get more comfortable together and stay in touch longer. Secondly, people in your area will know your market, so they’ll understand the type of clientele around there, the pricing expectations by many, the style of work that dominates the area… you get the idea. Having someone to talk to that just really understands your market can be huge because you won’t get advice that feels totally out of left field. You’ll get feedback that is more likely to make sense for your area.

Finally, you can look to connect with people who are more like you in other ways. Maybe you do stills and video – so look for others who offer both! Maybe you really geek out over historical architecture and want to focus on that – seek out other photographers who are into historical sites. Maybe you want to connect with others who understand cultural differences, and the expectations or challenges that come with that. For women, this can mean connecting with other women in the field. For others, it can mean connecting with photographers who are the same culture or race as you. 

Let’s talk a little more about connecting with others based on culture and race. It feels like this level of connection is often overlooked, but it’s so important! Why? Because it’s important that we see others like ourselves on our same journey. It’s important that we don’t feel alone, and seeing your gender and race reflected in others is powerful and motivating. 

For example, I’m a Latina woman. If I see another Latina woman who is rocking it in architectural or interior photography, then I’ll feel motivated and hopeful that I can rock it in my business, too! It shows me that it’s doable. Even if this other Latina woman is not rocking it yet, she can become a great personal connection to talk to because she’ll understand exactly the feelings and challenges that I’m facing. Those challenges and feelings are often tied to things like family expectations, financial background, or generational differences – all things that affect our businesses profoundly.

Women, let’s connect!

If you’re a woman in the architectural and interiors niche of photography, I invite you to join The Grove Studio’s Facebook group! Most women come to the group and love it because it’s a safe and supportive space, when other groups can often feel intimidating and overpowering. This group is a safe, judgment-free space where you can ask all sorts of questions, share your experiences, and find other women to connect with. 

If you’re looking for an even stronger connection, I invite you to attend the upcoming retreat! It’s 4 days and 3 nights in a stunning Southern California estate, where we’ll gather as an intimate group of 10 women, all architectural photographers. There are 6 sessions that are led by different experts, and we’ll cover a wide range of topics – money, branding, PR & publishing, working with an agency, the designer-photographer relationship, and meditation. We’re really proud to have a stellar lineup of experts for these sessions, including Carmeon Hamilton, Interior Designer and host of her own HGTV program! This will be unlike any other photography event out there because it’s intimate, exclusive, women-only, and focused on creating deep connections with others while learning about all aspects of your business. This retreat is all-inclusive from the moment you arrive so that you can focus on creating lifelong connections with fellow attendees and our experts. Spaces are limited to 10 attendees only and we’re half sold out already, so register today to lock in your spot!


Most of us start out in this crazy profession completely on our own, but it doesn’t need to be that way. If you don’t yet have those go-to photographers that you message, DM, or text when something comes up, then get to it! Start with Facebook and go from there. Most photographers will be happy to connect with someone new. After all, we’re all keeping an eye out for “our people”.

Natalia Robert is an interior photographer in Southern California and founder of The Grove Studio. Natalia is also founder of The Grove Studio, with the mission to increase representation of women in architectural and interior photography through education and community support. When she's not shooting, speaking, or mentoring, Natalia can be found relaxing with her fur baby Daisy, taking day trips to anywhere within a few hours' drive, or spending time with friends and family.
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