Ami Robertson I From Homelessness to a 6 figure Photography Business
Welcome to OpenFrame, a podcast by Pixieset!
Open Frame is a place where photographers and other creatives have inspiring, honest and uplifting conversations. It’s a community of like-minded people, who empower each other on the journey of creating a life and business that they’re proud of.
The first episode of Open Frame is a very special one. Our guest is Ami Robertson, also known as The Woman and the Wolf, a successful Branding and Wedding Photographer, a Business Coach, and the host of Snapphoto Festival in the UK.
Trigger Warning: In this episode there is mention of suicide and abusive relationships. Please listen at your own discretion.
Ami openly shares her story with us, how she found herself homeless, living in a shed with her horse, how she got back on her feet and is now running a 6 figure photography business. She breaks down what helped her through the darkest of times, and how she rekindled her photography business during the pandemic.
We also speak about the shadow side of the “6 figure” dream - the burnout and the costs of working nonstop. And we touch upon ideas on how to run a more sustainable business moving forward.
We hope this conversation is encouraging to many of you out there.
Here are some highlights from Ami Robertson’s story:
- In 2018 Ami became homeless after leaving an abusive relationship of ten years. Having no other options, she moved into a horse shed for a while and then into a caravan. What followed was a mental breakdown in 2019.
- Her branding photography business that was established in 2017, came to a screeching hold in March 2020, like for many of us. At the beginning of the pandemic Ami applied for a job at a supermarket, only to be told she wasn’t qualified enough to work there.
- You cannot choose what happens to you. Bad things happen all the time, to anyone. But you can choose how you react to them. It takes time to go from a victim mentality to resilience, and that’s ok. But it’s empowering to know that you are the one who can change your own circumstances by changing your response to them.
- Ami calls trauma ‘a bit of a superpower’. In a bizarre way, trauma prepares you with tools to react and deal with difficult situations, because you have already done it.
- When the pandemic hit, her survival instinct kicked in. The first thing she focused on was: ‘I need to make money’. So she did the thing everyone tells you not to do - she ran a big sale and booked 25 new clients from it.
- Ami started being active online consistently. She shared tips with other photographers, spoke honestly about her journey, did live videos, answered questions, shared her work - she made sure she was visible all the time and in many different ways.
- Sharing her knowledge brought in new opportunities. She was invited to teach online masterclasses, do mentoring and speak in different online panels.
- Ami also created an online course which generated around 50k in income.
- Apart from being more visible online, she also niched her business into small weddings and coined the term ‘microweddings’. Back then, people would laugh at this term, but now, her website lists on the first page of Google for“micro wedding photography” searches.
- During all the hustle of 2020 Ami tried to achieve more balance. She did therapy and walked the South West Coast Path, through which she raised £6000 for a charity that provides free therapy for women coming out of abusive relationships.
- Though Ami’s life journey sounds like a “shero story” - the success came at a cost and she’s very honest about it. She made 6 figures between April and September in 2021. But the cost was her health.
- Are you making your business choices out of fear or a place of joy and love? Great commercial success sometimes is fueled by fear. We are afraid of loosing everything, afraid of potential future dangers, so we go in hard. Awareness is key to avoid working yourself to the bone out of fear.
- An important step you can take to avoid fear and burn out - is to do your numbers. Determine how much exactly you need for a living, as well as how much you want to grow in the next months. Set boundaries and accept only the work that you need to do. When you reach that goal, you know that you can safely say ‘no’ to the rest.
- Everything in life has a shadow side, even the best things, even success. Take time off, take care of your mental health. That needs to come first. Explore who you are when you are not working.
- ‘Overnight success’ is usually ten years in the making.
There are so many ideas and lessons you can take away from Ami Robertson’s life story - that difficulty builds resilience, and you can achieve great things when your survival instinct kicks in. That you have the power to turn everything around. But equally, one of the most important lessons Ami shares with us is that your mental well-being has to come first. It is the foundation for everything you build.
We hope this conversation encourages you to not give up on yourself. We hope it gives you practical ideas to implement in your own work and life. To have patience and grace with your journey even when it feels like you are stuck.
Ami Robertson is someone you should follow for various reasons, one being her gorgeous photography work. But if you crave honesty, she is your person. She always shares openly about her business, the good and the hard sides. She is transparent about money, and doesn’t hold back when talking about how much she earns and how she earns it. She speaks about failures too, which is rare to find in our industry.
You can find more of Ami’s work on her website and on Instagram. She also runs an online course for Branding photographers that you can check out here.
This conversation is available on Youtube if you prefer to see the lovely faces of Ami Robertson and our host, Nadia Meli. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Open Frame podcast via your favorite streaming platform (Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, etc) and share this episode with your friends if you’ve found it interesting, useful or inspiring!