BPP 240: Ellie McKinney - The Power Of Vulnerability


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Ellie McKinney is a North Carolina based wedding photographer who in her first year full time earned six figures. She attributes much of her success to being open, vulnerable, and taking a stand for a cause she believes in. In this interview Ellie breaks down how she sees the world through her lens and the elements she sees and helping her achieve so much success. What You’ll Learn:
  • Ellie describes how she got into photography.
  • Looking back at old photos, what are the things you think you would do differently?
  • Elements of an Ellie McKinney photo.
  • How do you ensure that you're able to get the interactions that you're looking for between a couple?
  • Why do you think you've made a quick rise and success both in photography and business?
  • What are those actionable things that you did that you think skyrocketed your success?
  • Ellie describes her transition into full-time photography.
  • Ellie explains the different aspects of her marketing strategy in critical detail.
  • When it comes to workflows and systems, where do you see other photographers struggle the most?
  • How do you create a balance between knowing how much to say and what not to say with your posts?
Key Take Aways
  • With a background in retail and business, Ellie shares how she started her photography career having little to no prior experience in photography, but yet with sincere passion and confidence in her work.
  • The most simple thing that you can do to make a photo more aesthetically pleasing, for the most part, is having a straight horizon line.
  • Following an event where she had to struggle with overexposure, Ellie was elated to figure out that she had more control over the outcome of the picture, especially the lighting.
  • Ellie describes her use of "Questionnaires" between couples to gain information about them and create the emotion, energy, and interaction between them which forms the basis for her images.
  • Relentlessness and continually striving to be better describe the reasons for her quick rise to success.
  • There was some intentionality to the marketing strategy employed, as awareness of her passion for wedding photography helped direct her marketing towards it.
  • One of the biggest mistakes by photographers is not putting a 'Call to Action" in our bio on Instagram, so whether it's a paid ad, they can go straight to your website rather than stay longer on Instagram where they may easily get distracted from your content.
  • Most photographers tend to play the 'Blame Game' rather than actively try to create solutions to their problems.
  • For photographers who also want to be open: You will have backlash, but if what you're saying doesn't negatively impact anybody else then you're saying the right things and you should be pushing for it.
  • Ellie's advice for new photographers: You're going to hear a lot of good things from a lot of people, and there is information overload so if something feels good and it excites you, try it. Seriously spend time focusing on what you're already good at instead of trying to be like other people.
Stand out Quotes
  • "The most simple thing that you can do to make a photo more aesthetically pleasing, for the most part, is having a straight horizon line" - [Ellie]
  • "For me, it's always about the couple first" - [Ellie]
  • "It's okay to want something quickly and it's okay to have that drive but you also have to be realistic about the actionable steps that you're taking" - [Ellie]
  • "I used reviews as a way to get insight of what made me stand out" - [Ellie]
  • "If it does not negatively impact anybody else then it's worth fighting for" - [Ellie]
  • "You already have that talent within you, so read your reviews, see what people are saying over and over again about you and double down on those things instead of trying to mold yourself into something else" - [Ellie]

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