The Life You Truly Want with Alina Botica

September 14, 2021 Artist Spotlight

Episode 93: Alina Botica

In Episode 93 of the Portrait System Podcast, Nikki Closser chats with Alina Botica of Alina Botica Portrait Studio in Bucharest, Romania. Alina fell in love with photography while on vacation in Greece. Thereafter, she devoted every spare minute after her 9-6 pm banking job to learning the craft, so she could create the life of her dreams. After shooting weddings for years, Alina realized her true passion was in portrait and boudoir photography where she could empower women to feel courageous and beautiful. As soon as she made up her mind, her life became easier and opportunities began to abound.

Be sure to listen to the whole podcast to hear how Alina is able to make a comfortable living even in Romania where the minimum wage is lower than in other countries. You also hear how she made her transition from weddings to boudoir. And you won’t want to miss hearing how she readies her clients for a true luxury experience by preparing them in advance with great advice, including exercises and stretches to limber up for boudoir.

In this blog, you’ll find some of Alina’s gorgeous portraits, links to her web presence, and answers to some bonus questions.

Mentioned in this podcast were: The Portrait System Podcast, Episode 85: Believe and Receive with Sue Bryce, and The Portrait Masters Awards & Accreditation.

You might also enjoy these Portrait System courses on body image and boudoir:

Get to Know Alina Botica

Q: Most artists have a point in their life when they knew this was meant for them. Do you have that moment?

A: Yes, I did have that moment in 2017 when I changed all my business from weddings to portrait & boudoir, and till this day, there are signs everywhere that I am on MY path, the one for me. One day it may not be photography, but empowering women to see their beauty and to have more confidence is definitely a Divine plan for me. 

Q: How has Sue Bryce Education changed your life for the better?

A: I have been following Sue since before she had her first online teaching, and I was so mesmerized by her work, by her way of seeing the woman, by her way of “talking” through her blog posts. So naturally I kept following her and wishing one day I would do what she does.

That moment came at the beginning of 2016 when I was laying in bed and listening to an episode where Sue was talking. Back story and context: I was in a depressed state of mind because my mom was battling melanoma, and half of 2015, I spent it between home, hospital, & shooting weddings. So right then and there after hearing her talk, in all the emotional state I was in, I decided I would become a portrait & boudoir photographer for women, and I would not be shooting weddings anymore.

You know, life is short, and you should do what makes you happy, and for me that was not shooting weddings anymore. And from that moment on, my life changed for the better. It seemed like all the weight had been lifted. People were paying me what I asked for without negotiating. Opportunities started coming in from out of nowhere. I had my first photo exhibition. I was asked to be a lecturer at a conference for photographers — to have a workshop at a student festival.

And today, I am making more money than I did with weddings. I work only from Tuesday to Friday. I appear in magazines. I shoot magazine covers — beautiful projects for women. I’m a guest in The Portrait System Podcast (I would call this a milestone). And all of this thanks to Sue, her teachings, her way of pushing us even from a great distance.

Q: What is your average sale currently?

A: About 700 Euros for portrait & boudoir and 460 Euros for business and personal branding. This is for 2020.

Q: How did you push past fear when building your business?

A: When you have to pay rent for the roof over your head, for your food, for your bills, you just keep pushing. The fear of not having a roof over my head was bigger than the fear of not being good enough, the fear of failing, bigger then anything. I could not imagine going back to a small town, living with my parents in my 30s. And on top of that, the fear I might have to go back to a 9-6 job and all the frustrations it brings. That keeps me pushing and pushing. And of course the support of my friends, my family, my life partner.

Q: What fellow artists in the industry do you gain the most inspiration from?

A: I am gonna state the obvious. Sue Bryce is one of them. Kara Marie, Teri Hofford, Lindsay Adler, Jamie Beck for her beautiful still-life photography & self-portraits, and I recently discovered Ashkan Roayaee and love his photos. And there are many, many more.

Q: For someone starting out on their photography journey what advice would you have for them?

A: Shoot everything, and see what you like shooting, and then stick to it. Find your niche. Put all your passion in it, but also establish boundaries, so you don’t burnout.

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Alina Botica of Alina Botica Portrait Studio

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Click Here to Read the Podcast Transcript

FULL TRANSCRIPT: Please note this transcript was generated by AI and may contain errors.

00:00:00:02 – 00:00:02:07

You’re listening to the Portrait System podcast.

00:00:02:18 – 00:00:14:19

You have to stop comparing yourself to others and you just have to believe in your abilities, and if you think you don’t have the abilities, then go study.

00:00:17:26 – 00:00:48:06

This is the Portrait System Podcast, a show that helps portrait photographers and people hoping to become one. Navigate the world of photography, business, money and so much more. We totally keep it real. We share stories about the incredible ups and the very difficult downs when running a photography business. I’m your host, Nikki Closser, and the point of this podcast is for you to learn actionable steps that you can take to grow your own business and also to feel inspired and empowered by the stories you hear. Today’s guest is Alina Botica, and she is a photographer in Romania.

00:00:48:16 – 00:01:22:04

Alina’s Specialty is boudoir photography, as well as personal branding and portraits thrown in there, and she has gotten to the point where she can do this full time. Alina was really fun to chat with, and she has such a positive outlook. She’s also really great at showing up on her social media and sharing with her potential clients what they will get from her when they book a photo shoot. Alina started out shooting in her apartment, but has now rented a studio that she loves. I absolutely love interviewing photographers from around the world because it shows you that you don’t have to be living in L.A. or New York to have a sales average that is sustainable for your business.

00:01:22:16 – 00:01:32:12

Alina is doing it in Romania, and she is a total inspiration. OK, let’s get started with Alina. Hi, Alina, welcome to the Portrait System podcast.

00:01:32:24 – 00:01:37:11

Hi, Nikki, thank you for inviting me. It’s a great honour for me to be here.

00:01:37:24 – 00:01:51:11

Oh, I’m so excited to have you. It’s so it’s just so great. So before we get started with your whole story, will you just let our listeners know where you live, where your studio is and just what genre you shoot in general for photography?

00:01:51:29 – 00:02:09:05

Yes. Well, I am Alina and I live in Bucharest, Romania, my studio. I’ve got it from, I don’t know, t 2018 or something like this year, three years, the same space. And I shoot the portraits and boudoir.

00:02:09:27 – 00:02:15:21

OK, so mostly mostly like portraits of women. Or do you do family photos or, you know,

00:02:15:27 – 00:02:44:27

tell people I know, mostly women I know really should kids. Yeah, because I’m not good at it. I tried it, but I’m no good at it. I don’t have the patience to stay with a child with a newborn, and I think it’s so hard, so hard to get those cute faces and cute positions. And I really I really don’t don’t know how to do it. So I stick to what I know.

00:02:46:14 – 00:02:56:15

I’m with you. I’m the same, I am the same, and that’s OK. You know, everyone finds what they love to shoot and stick with them. That’s great. OK, so you’re in Romania? This is exciting.

00:02:56:17 – 00:02:59:22

Yes, Romania, it’s a very beautiful country.

00:03:00:14 – 00:03:21:06

Yeah, that’s awesome. I’m excited to have you to interview you because, you know, we get a lot of people saying like, Oh, you can only do, you know, charge certain prices or do a certain business model in, like California or New York or, you know, so I’m just really happy that we’re going to be able to get a different perspective from you in Europe.

00:03:21:26 – 00:03:54:23

Yes, I think everybody can do it. It’s not depending on the location. It might not be the same structure of the prices. I mean, I’m not starting at the prices that Sue talks about or that are in other countries, European countries, because we here have a minimum wage of around 300 euros. So if I start when my prices start at five hundred and go up to twelve hundred four portraits,

00:03:54:29 – 00:04:00:25

oh, that’s great. OK, so so you’re the average. You said 300 euros is that per month,

00:04:01:04 – 00:04:03:01

that’s a minimum wage per month.

00:04:03:06 – 00:04:24:13

OK, gotcha. And then your packages start at five hundred euro? Yes. OK, gotcha. I’m just I’m glad to talk about this because this yes, you don’t necessarily have to start your prices at nine hundred euro or twelve hundred euro or, you know, whatever it like, but even five hundred, that’s like a great starting point for you.

00:04:24:15 – 00:04:32:04

Yes. And five hundred it’s only for six digital. So OK. Yeah, no makeup, no hair, only six digital.

00:04:32:09 – 00:04:38:00

Yeah. And then I want to hear how you got to this point. But do you mind sharing or do you know your sales average?

00:04:38:12 – 00:05:02:05

My sales average around, I think, around 600 600 euro. Yes. Well, actually six hundred euros. But I do also personal branding. OK, from time to time, and those sessions are a little, I don’t know, they start from €200. OK, gotcha. For three photos, so OK.

00:05:02:29 – 00:05:22:04

OK, so we’ll talk about specifically all of your pricing and how it works in a little bit, but I just want to make sure people, you know, I feel like sometimes people say like, Oh, you can’t charge this or that or whatever, because people don’t make as much money. But when someone wants to purchase something, let’s say an iPhone. You know, how much is an iPhone in Romania?

00:05:22:16 – 00:05:32:05

Well, it’s about, I don’t know, the last model, the iPhone 12 Pro. It’s about one thousand euro.

00:05:32:07 – 00:06:10:11

Yeah, almost. So people will save for it and buy it if that’s something they really want, right? And that’s the same with photos. It’s the same with a fancy handbag or a plane ticket to go on vacation or whatever. It’s the same thing. It doesn’t matter, like people will save for it if that’s what they want. And obviously, even though minimum wage is three hundred euro, that doesn’t mean that’s what everyone’s making like. There’s a range of different incomes, there’s a range of different clock or so. I just wanted to point that out before we get into your story that you can, you know, you don’t have to charge as much, obviously in the States or like you would in the UK or in New York or whatever.

00:06:10:13 – 00:06:17:05

But you can absolutely make a living and not charge so little that you’re burning yourself out.

00:06:17:21 – 00:06:44:22

Yes, very true. There are. There are a lot of people here that go on with prices like, I don’t know, €100 per person with hair and makeup. And I’m always wondering, how are they able to live? Money wise and life wise, family time, I don’t know personal time, friends time. I don’t know how they can live with €100 position.

00:06:45:14 – 00:06:48:07

Agreed, agreed. And I bet it doesn’t last long.

00:06:48:09 – 00:06:55:28

No, no. And they do 30 sessions per month or more. And I’m wondering, wow.

00:06:57:17 – 00:07:29:04

Yes, me too. I never want to try it. No. So this is why I’ve got my prices up so I can have, I don’t know, four six sessions per month and live a good life, afford some free time. Afford some spa moments, some time with friends. And I don’t know, just enjoy life with a little vacation, even if I’m not going to Bali or some exotic location. But for me, for example, I like Greece very much.

00:07:29:20 – 00:07:43:22

And if I’m able to with my prices and the way I structured my business, I’m able to live in Greece for a whole month if I want to. Wow. This is success for me. This is a good life for me.

00:07:43:24 – 00:08:13:23

Yeah, I love that. I love that. And and the cool thing is, you get to design your own life when you have your own business and when you are charging sustainable prices for where you live, you get to design your life however you want. And for you, that means living in Greece for a month. Amazing. Like, that’s so awesome. OK, so did you always do photography? Well, OK, I know you didn’t because you said you’ve only done it for three years, but were you always an entrepreneur or you know, what did you do before photography?

00:08:14:07 – 00:08:45:02

Well, I was working in a bank. OK, yep. A nine to six job and not the five to six years away. We had one hour lunch break and that was my life, and I left the bank around to 2011 and I started my own business as a wedding photographer. Then and easily, I moved into portraits and lastly into boudoir.

00:08:46:24 – 00:09:23:12

But there I was, working in a bank and I wasn’t happy, and I didn’t have time to have the vacations I wanted. I didn’t have as much free time as I wanted, and so I decided to to go off on my own to lunge into life. Mm hmm. And photography was there for me, and I don’t have a story like most of us do. Most photographers do that. They had, I don’t know, the father, the mother that was doing photography, or they were passionate about photography since they were little.

00:09:23:22 – 00:09:31:02

No, I found photography actually in a vacation in Greece because apparently everything starts in Greece.

00:09:32:26 – 00:10:05:13

And I went to Greece, I had a Canon PowerShot. It was a little canon. I brought it with my own money and I was so proud of it and then went to Greece and I came back with two thousand photos. And I said, Whoa, I really like doing photo taking photos. And I went on and searched for a photography school because I didn’t know very much then. So I was just what I read on the internet. And I did a photography school for three months.

00:10:05:25 – 00:10:14:04

I got a diploma that helped me open my business because I needed a diploma for the type of business I have.

00:10:15:25 – 00:10:27:26

Yeah, in the state, in the States, we don’t have to do anything to like, show that we’re able to properly take photos. You can just start, start a business. You just have to go through the proper channels to get a license through the state.

00:10:28:11 – 00:10:42:06

Mm-Hmm. There is something similar here with limited responsibility. It’s called Sarale here, but I don’t know. I think it’s an LLC.

00:10:42:21 – 00:10:44:04

LLC Yep, that’s what we have.

00:10:44:23 – 00:11:02:09

Yeah, that’s where where you don’t need a diploma. But there is something else that you need a diploma. And it’s easier for me, for example, because I don’t want to have an LLC. It’s easier for me to have the other business type.

00:11:03:06 – 00:11:06:25

I was just curious if you had to take a photography course.

00:11:07:19 – 00:11:35:03

Oh yes, for this. I mean, I wanted to take a photography course because I wanted to learn how to use my camera. Right, right. Yeah, I bought a Sony Alpha, something I don’t even remember my first camera professional camera, and I wanted to know how to use it because I didn’t know how to use it. Mm-Hmm. And so I had to go to school. I had to take a course.

00:11:35:09 – 00:11:54:01

OK, gotcha. OK, so then this was back in. You said 2011. Yes. OK, so from then until because you had mentioned earlier that you’ve been doing this sort of style of portrait with this business model for three years. So what happened between 2011 and like twenty seventeen twenty eighteen?

00:11:54:14 – 00:12:14:20

Well, from 2011, I started doing weddings because it was easier to get on the market. You know, weddings, you need the photographer. Everyone hires a photographer to shoot their wedding and some where. In 2015, I found out my mom had cancer.

00:12:16:17 – 00:12:27:12

And I went to a very, very rough period. I was just working to get money. Oh, I was doing weddings, but I didn’t find them.

00:12:29:28 – 00:12:45:24

I don’t know, I didn’t find the joy in it anymore. Mm hmm. So somewhere in 2016, at the beginning of the year, I was listening to Sue Bryce. And she always kicks you in the butt.

00:12:46:25 – 00:12:48:03

Yeah, she sure does,

00:12:49:21 – 00:13:20:00

and I just, I don’t know, I was staying in bed, all sad and all. And I listened to Sue and right there, and then I decided to to go and do portraits. And so I started to work on my portfolio in 2016, and I charge her around. They are not two hundred euros per session with hair and makeup and a handful of photos. Mm hmm.

00:13:20:07 – 00:13:32:22

I don’t know something. I wouldn’t do it anymore. And in 2017, I had my first exhibition, my photo exhibition, and I changed all my.

00:13:34:17 – 00:13:56:18

My site and my business, I change it to portraits, so I change everything. We I had it on weddings. My site was about weddings and they change into projects and boudoir. And so in 2018, I had officially in my last two weddings. And then I went all in portrait and boudoir

00:13:57:04 – 00:13:58:15

Wow, that’s exciting.

00:13:58:25 – 00:13:59:26

Yes, it is

00:14:02:07 – 00:14:16:15

OK, so at that point, you said you, you ended up just switching over your website and your social media and how did you start marketing for that? Or did you like build your portfolio beforehand? Or, you know, how did you do all that?

00:14:17:06 – 00:14:53:04

Yes, I did build my portfolio for around a year or so. And then I just I just started putting out projects. And, you know, there is a saying that people buy what they see. So I was not posting on social media? I was not posting weddings anymore photos, wedding photos. So people started inquiring about portraits because I was using what I had done with my portfolio and my portfolio.

00:14:53:06 – 00:15:06:24

I built it on free shots because it was the easier way I did free shots with my friends, make up with two of my friends. And we were just playing out. And that helped me a lot.

00:15:07:13 – 00:15:12:25

Yeah, that’s great. And and even just that practice, like with your friends, is so important.

00:15:13:13 – 00:15:47:22

Yes, it is. Because, you know, you start seeing the light for portraits. I mean, I was using light before on weddings, and I learned a lot before. But it’s somehow different because on weddings, you have so little time. I mean, you have 10 to 15 minutes to do some portraits of the bride. But when there is a full session, you have to you have to know a little bit more and you have to start looking at things different from from shooting a wedding.

00:15:48:05 – 00:16:12:14

Yeah, for sure. For sure. OK, so you built your portfolio? And then because I think a lot of people out there who are shooting weddings, they maybe want to add in portraits, but they’re not sure how to kind of make that transition or what to do. And so how did you start marketing it? I mean, I know you said you started posting and showing those photos, but what did you what did you do to get those clients in?

00:16:12:22 – 00:16:47:13

Well, once I decided that I wanted to do portraits and boudoir because actually that is what I wanted to do since I went to photography school and I remember my my teacher asking what type of photography I wanted to do. And I said, portrait and fashion. And somehow I ended up combining them. Mm hmm. But for the everyday women, not for models, because I don’t work with models and I didn’t know things started to get easier because I felt like I was in the right place.

00:16:47:15 – 00:17:17:18

I felt like I found my my way, life, my vocation. It may sound big and it may sound, I don’t know, a little bit cheesy, but this is how I felt, and I started networking. I went to networking groups. I got some invitations to speak at conferences to teach others and what I do, and this is how I marketed my business. OK.

00:17:17:27 – 00:17:45:02

Going off, going out, networking more. Because when I was doing weddings, I didn’t went to networking groups or networking meetings. But when I started doing portraits, I went for about two years until the pandemic came and we couldn’t go out and meet. But I did two years of networking, so networking.

00:17:45:14 – 00:17:57:24

Talk to me a little bit about that. I hear people say, but there’s no, no networking groups by me, or there’s no way to network by me because I have a small town or I’m not in the US or whatever. So. So talk to me about networking in Romania.

00:17:58:06 – 00:18:42:09

Well, Bucharest is the largest town, as is the capital of Romania. So here we have. We have networking groups. There are not many. I think there are three networking different companies, three different companies that do networking business networking because we have other type of events that are in the evening with a glass of wine and you can network. But I was doing the the business one, the one that you go in the morning and you talk about your business and you’ll meet a lot of people and everyone, you will get a chance to do other collaborations or to meet people that need your services or you need their services and networking for me.

00:18:43:11 – 00:19:13:27

I tried them all. I tried all the groups because it’s important to see where you fit in, where you feel the best way. You feel comfortable because if you don’t feel comfortable, then it’s not going to work out because you have to trust the people that are in your team, in your networking team. Because we have here, we had three networking groups and. Each team, the group has his own day of meeting and you can go from one group to another.

00:19:14:09 – 00:19:30:15

But the ones that are in your team, this are the person they recommend you to their peers, to their business network, to their people. Mm-Hmm. And so you have to trust each other. And this is why you have to find the find your people.

00:19:31:03 – 00:20:05:04

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. That’s one of the things that I love so much about networking is maybe the people that are in the groups. Sometimes they become my clients and sometimes not. But what what is so great is when you can find someone who will tell other people about you, who will tell their friends and tell their colleagues and tell their family. And that’s where it becomes. This sort of chain reaction where people start talking about you is is finding, yeah, just people who who love to talk about you and what you do.

00:20:05:07 – 00:20:08:00

And yeah, so that’s cool that you have that as well. That’s awesome.

00:20:08:09 – 00:20:42:20

Yes. And we stayed friends over the pandemic. I didn’t participate in online. They met online at some point, but I couldn’t meet them online. I got I got very bored, to be honest, because it’s not the same thing. An online meeting with face to face meeting, especially when there is a large group of people and twenty five people plus there, plus the ones that they invited had to talk about their business, you know, and time was running so slow and they got bored.

00:20:43:08 – 00:21:11:23

But we remain friends and now we are meeting again in smaller groups because things are opening up, but we are starting to meet again. So it’s very nice that you know you’ve got someone talking about you. And this is actually how I got this networking Facebook and Google and my site, my website were the main three pillars of how I got my clients.

00:21:12:12 – 00:21:27:16

I mean, the bottom line is that networking really can be a crucial, important part of of growing your clientele base, and it sounds like it’s worked for you. It works for people all over, but you have to put the work in in the time of personal relationships.

00:21:28:03 – 00:21:59:06

Yes, yes. Of course, it meant a lot for my business. Well, I did grow. I did grow with the networking. But yes, it is a lot of work because you have to go to the meetings. We had meetings every Thursday every week and doing this for two years in a row. It can be hard. I mean, we had we also had the summer vacation. We end in July, that the end of July and we start in September.

00:22:00:14 – 00:22:18:14

But we have one month of every year, but the presence is mandatory, so you only get to skip it for four times. And after the four times you are removed from the group. So it is a lot of commitment and you have to do your part.

00:22:19:05 – 00:22:51:04

Yeah, yeah, definitely. And that’s the thing. I think sometimes people want it to be just like a quick go to one meeting and get all of these clients. And that’s really not how it works. Yes. And it sounds like you said you have like attendance policies or whatever. And I know I’ve said this before on this podcast, but I don’t do well with like attendance and requirements. I don’t like to be told what to do. Me neither. Yeah. Yeah, there are groups that I think work well for some people and not as much for others, and you just have to figure out what works for you, you know? So yeah, yeah.

00:22:51:22 – 00:22:59:18

OK, so let’s talk a little bit about the services you provide and your pricing. So if I were to book a shoot with you now, what would that look like?

00:23:00:03 – 00:23:47:13

First of all, you contact me through my site, every other communication method. It’s kind of either shut down or redirecting you to the site because I want my my communication to be on my email. Well, my main email and from that you will you’ll get the first email with some questions that I would like for you to answer so I can know better who you are and what you desire from the shoot. What is your goal? What do you want to have with the end of the shoot? And also you’ll get my pricing in beautiful PDF, and from there we would just go with booking and from booking.

00:23:47:26 – 00:24:22:24

I have a very extensive communication with my client, says the booking, the booking day and until the the day they come to the studio, there are about four or five emails, no. More, I think. with some guide to what to wear to how to choose their colors too. I don’t know what to do one week to week before two weeks before the shoot. How to prepare those skin to take their meals, for example, if they want to, to have a glowing skin.

00:24:23:09 – 00:25:07:07

Well, to hydrate. How to do pilates and yoga. Some stretching because boudoir sessions are very hard on the body because you have to arch back. You have to. There are some strange position that you don’t usually do in your at home. Stay in those positions. Yeah, it’s it’s a lot of communication. It’s a lot of preparation. I just want the day to be a pampering day or real pampering day, and I just don’t want them to feel awkward in any way or to feel unprepared or to, you know, leave something at home and realize that the studio so they they I give them this advice.

00:25:07:09 – 00:25:18:19

They so organization times. I don’t know when to do their nails, their skincare routine and stuff like this girl stuff. Yeah, yeah.

00:25:19:08 – 00:25:26:26

Yeah, I love that. Just real quick, how many boudoir sessions do you do? Like, what percentage do you think of your shoots are boudoir

00:25:27:13 – 00:26:00:05

in the last year? Oh, I did mainly boudoir. I do around 50 shoots per year. Besides the shoots that I do for myself, I don’t know some creative projects and some some other campaigns that I do, and around 30 of them are boudoir or some kind of boudoir with portrait or boudoir way to personal branding because they can combine the session.

00:26:00:07 – 00:26:30:06

So if everyone, if anyone comes and only wants personal branding, then they get a price for their personal branding and an email standard for for this. So this kind of photoshoot. But if they want to, I don’t know something more. For example, if they want portraits and some personal branding or some business headshots and some boudoir, they get a different email with a different pricing PDF. So it depends.

00:26:31:03 – 00:26:35:07

I don’t have a percentage because it can be combined.

00:26:35:09 – 00:26:36:06

So yeah,

00:26:36:26 – 00:26:43:11

but most of them are boudoir because this is what I saw on social media. So people come for this.

00:26:44:02 – 00:27:17:26

Yeah, I want to know because I love the idea of combining sessions like that, and I do that as well. With my personal branding, I always encourage them to bring, you know, something a little bit out of the box. That would be more personal photos, whether it is, you know, something sexier or just something really glamorous or and I feel like that helps me to sell more photos. And I’m just I’m curious, how do you let people know that this is an option? Like, how do you educate them around the fact that they can combine the two shoots well when they?

00:27:17:28 – 00:27:57:01

This is why I redirect them to my website because there is the they have to complete two to complete the form. And in that form they have some options. I mean, they have a question that is regarding the type of session that they want and how will they use their photos. And they have options, too. They have to choose personal branding, boudoir, sexy lingerie, contemporary portraits and if they choose more, I don’t know if they chose boudoir and personal branding and contemporary portraits, then I know that they don’t want only personal branding photos.

00:27:57:10 – 00:28:41:01

So I send them the PDF with the combined photo session. If they only choose the photos for work business head shots, then I know that they only want that. Some ask if I don’t know if they can do some personal portraits. Also, but after the initial email and then I say, OK, just bring one outfit and we’ll do a photo. I don’t know. Ten minutes. Uh-Huh. But mostly I know when they want to combine photo session and when they want only boudoir or only personal branding because I have that in my form and it’s easier for me to know what to send.

00:28:41:11 – 00:29:01:27

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I like that. I think it’s smart to put it in it. You know, like you said, they have to complete the form because some people might not even think that that was an option. And if you’re wondering how to, maybe if you’re out there listening and wondering how to kind of combine shoots, you just have to tell people that it’s possible and plant the seed ahead of time.

00:29:02:14 – 00:29:27:06

Yes. And they also talk about it in my social media because as I said, my social media and my website are my main sources of finding clients, and I let them know they can combine. They can wear a dress and also wear some, I don’t know, a sexy dress for boudoir or some business suit for their business headsets.

00:29:27:18 – 00:29:52:20

Yeah, you do a really nice job combining that on your social media. Thank you. Like it, it flows well together. And I think that that you have a really good example of of how you can do that. You know, some people choose to have their boudoir sessions completely separate on their social media. But I don’t think it’s necessary if if you do it in a way that you know, it looks consistent on your page and I think you do a really nice job of doing that.

00:29:52:26 – 00:30:23:06

Thank you. Thank you very much. I know I wouldn’t have the energy or the time or the will to have separate social media pages for every type of portrait for the shoot that I do, and business headshots and personal branding and contemporary portraits and boudoir, as I call them, boudoir, for example, for me, are intimate portrait because I do classic boudoir. But I also put in a little bit of art.

00:30:23:14 – 00:30:33:08

I don’t know if it’s art, but I like to call it art because it’s not only a boudoir classic boudoir. Sexy pose.

00:30:34:03 – 00:30:52:28

Mm-Hmm. Well, you’re not just focusing on boobs and butt like, I’ll put it on low lying, like you’re focusing more on the woman and the expression in the pose. And of course, there is some of that thrown in there, you know, the more revealing super sexy stuff. But but I feel like you’re focusing more on the person and not the body part.

00:30:53:03 – 00:30:56:15

Yes. And on the form and on the light and on.

00:30:58:06 – 00:31:06:15

I mean, it has to to move me in a way not just to be in a sexy position and go be sexy, you know?

00:31:06:19 – 00:31:10:18

Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Totally, totally. Yeah, you do a really nice job of that.

00:31:10:24 – 00:31:11:20

Well, thank you, very much.

00:31:12:14 – 00:31:24:17

Yeah, yeah. Let’s talk a little bit about your pricing and how how these packages work or do you do a la carte? I know you said you start with the six digital’s for five hundred euros. Tell us a little bit more. Yes.

00:31:25:12 – 00:31:57:01

So I only do packages. They have some a la carte options, but there are some extras over the collections. I don’t really do a session fee and a la carte because I find people get a little bit confused here in Romania because they are used to packages. And not to session fee and a la carte. And so I decided to just do collections. And yes, my collection starts at five hundred euros, they get six digitals.

00:31:57:19 – 00:32:32:27

Then we go up to, for example, for the sessions that I do combined that there are combined. The next collection is seven hundred and fifty euros and they get 15 photos, digital photos that get the change three outfits. And they have makeup and hair included. And then if there is only boudoir or boudoir session, I don’t have makeup included in the boudoir sessions or on either of the collections because I want to give them the chance to choose if they want makeup or not.

00:32:33:12 – 00:33:09:09

Because for me, for example, I’m a person that doesn’t wear makeup. I mean, I wear red lipstick and some mascara, and that’s about it. And I want people to have the option to choose makeup or not. So the next collection for the boudoir is six hundred and thirty euros because we take out the makeup. Oh, gotcha. And the last one, it’s twelve hundred euros, and they’ve got 30 photos and digital photos and five prints and one beautiful box to store their prints.

00:33:09:27 – 00:33:44:01

And they want more. They’ve got extras if they want more outfit change, if they want more photos, digital photos or printed photos or if they want more boxes, they can have it. It’s an extra charge, OK, if they want to shoot in another place than my studio. Again, there is an extra charge because I like to shoot in my studio. That’s easier. Yes. And this is why I pay rent to a studio not to go into the park and shoot in the green light of the trees.

00:33:44:06 – 00:33:52:10

Totally, totally. And I am. I like my studio and I like I. I am a lazy entrepreneur.

00:33:52:23 – 00:33:55:21

It’s the same you and me, Alina,

00:33:57:24 – 00:34:09:23

and I want to feel comfortable in my space. I know my life. I know how it works. I know where it is best and I’m doing my job better and more productive.

00:34:11:00 – 00:34:39:27

It’s so I love that you’re saying this. I hear people all the time in the Sue Bryce education. You know, the Facebook group where they’ll be like, Well, I don’t know if I can charge these prices because I don’t have a studio or because I’m just shooting outside and I’m like, Do you have any idea how much harder it is to shoot outside? You’re dealing with weather, like you said, the green grass and the trees, and whether other people have cars driving by. I mean, all of it, it’s the mosquitoes. I don’t know if your mosquitoes in Romania, but we do here, you know, we

00:34:39:29 – 00:34:40:14


00:34:40:16 – 00:35:11:27

like hogs in Australia. Actually, this is kind of funny. I was doing a senior photoshoot and I posted a behind the scenes and I was standing in the brush like in, you know, super tall grass and there were flowers, which is why I was in there and I had my client in there and my Australian photographers who follow me were like, Oh my God, aren’t you worried about snakes or like scorpions, like people in the like in the desert areas are like scorpions, and I’m like, No, I don’t have any of that, so you just never know.

00:35:13:01 – 00:35:21:00

Yeah. And we have ticks here. Yeah, we have those, too, I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to be bothered.

00:35:21:14 – 00:35:51:29

Yeah, we do tick checks on my kids because our new home has 10 acres and I planted a wildflower. It’s so it turned out so beautiful. I’m so excited about it, and I didn’t spray for ticks over there because we have milkweed and there’s monarch butterflies over there. And I don’t want to kill the butterflies because monarchs only only feed on the milk and milkweed and we have it anyways. It’s so beautiful, but any time we’re out there, we do tick checks. We check our hair behind her ears. And it was the whole point is, is that it is way harder to be outside.

00:35:52:01 – 00:35:57:17

So if you’re thinking you can’t charge as much because you’re outside, you have to think twice about that because it’s not true.

00:35:57:19 – 00:36:04:18

I agree. I totally agree with you. I don’t want to shoot outside. I really don’t want to shoot outside. No.

00:36:04:23 – 00:36:06:02

Tell us about your studio.

00:36:06:15 – 00:36:15:25

Well, my studio is it’s, you know, an old house in the centre of Bucharest. I have high ceilings. That’s what I wanted.

00:36:17:10 – 00:36:50:05

Since I thought about a studio. But as you mentioned earlier, people thinking they can’t charge the prices, the big prices because they don’t have a studio. I want to tell a story where I where I did my first shoots of 500 euros per shoot. I did it in my living room and in my living room. There was a couch, there was a desk with two computers my computer and my partner’s computer.

00:36:50:28 – 00:37:02:11

There were books, a library full of books, and I only had the space a shooting space of three metres by three metres. And that is where I sat for

00:37:04:02 – 00:37:05:04

one whole year.

00:37:05:18 – 00:37:16:10

Yeah, I remember when you posted in the group that you got your new studio. Yes and yes. OK, so you photographed in your your. Living room for a year.

00:37:16:23 – 00:37:27:09

Yeah, actually, it was for almost two years, actually, because I got my studio at the end of 2018 and somewhere in October.

00:37:27:26 – 00:37:34:24

OK, yeah, no. I found your post in the group and it’s it was September 24th, 2018. So 2018 is when you posted it.

00:37:35:03 – 00:37:35:23

Yeah. Yes.

00:37:36:09 – 00:37:39:12

So close to the end. So yeah, so almost two years you shot in. You’re in your living room,

00:37:39:20 – 00:38:11:23

in my living room, and I was making 500 euros per shot for a photoshoot. So I’m always trying to say to people that this is your own limitations. Mm hmm. Mm hmm. I mean, we we ended up with a joke actually about my living room, my shooting in the living room because I was I was always telling my clients a few in my living room and I was not making my shooting space to see them in inadequate order to make it.

00:38:12:06 – 00:38:31:24

I don’t know, sound sleazy or sounds more sounds weird. I was. I was proud of my space. I was proud of my photos. I was proud of what I was doing. I mean, most of my photos that are in the accreditation program were shot there.

00:38:32:19 – 00:38:55:25

Really? Yes. OK. That’s awesome. Two things. One, the accreditation program, if you’re listening and you’re not sure it’s the portrait masters, we have awards and accreditation. So that’s what I was referring to. But I want to back up a little bit because I think I interrupted you when talking about your studio space. You said you wanted to tell us about your first five hundred euro shoot? Yes. Did you get to finish telling that or did I interrupt you? Sorry.

00:38:56:04 – 00:39:05:05

No, it was. It was up. I didn’t know exactly. I was telling about the space. OK, but I can tell my face, please. My first five hundred.

00:39:06:12 – 00:39:08:12

Exciting. It’s fun to hear these stories.

00:39:08:19 – 00:39:20:24

Yes it was my first five hundred euro portrait. It was in the living room I was talking about earlier with a mom and her two kids,

00:39:22:27 – 00:39:58:16

and it was, I don’t know when she chose, but that collection of five hundred euros, I was like, Oh girl, we can do this. I mean, they they surely can pay this prices if there is only one person that pays this price. This means that there are others. The first one, it’s so important. The first shoot of five hundred euros just confirmed meet you confirm to me that I can have this prices and I can live a good life and have the life I desire.

00:39:58:18 – 00:40:28:29

I dream and. Then I’ve got my first €1000 photo shoot and 2020, when was the pandemic going on I had my best financing year and made out some more wow, more money than before. Wow. So yeah, I had 12000 at the beginning of this year. I was only having five hundred euros photoshoot and somehow I went.

00:40:30:04 – 00:41:01:26

I went a little bit worried, but then they started only booking the twelve hundred photoshoot and I was, Oh OK, we’re right on track again. But the first five hundred euros that you get for a photoshoot, for a portrait photoshoot when there are people in your country that get five hundred euros for a wedding, a wedding where you stay here in Romania, the weddings. Are between 16 hours and 20 hours.

00:41:01:28 – 00:41:34:25

Oh, that sounds. We don’t have weddings of four hours or eight hours. We have the full on wedding, right? And there are people making asking for 500 euros for a day like that. And I did weddings. I know what a day like that is on your back, on your, on your body, on your mental health or on your health at all because you stay almost between, I would say, six to eight hours. You listen to very loud music.

00:41:35:04 – 00:41:58:07

Yes. This is how weddings are here. So you’re hitting kind of rusty. And for me, when I got those 500 euros for one photoshoot of portrait photoshoot, it was like a confirmation that I can do it and I can ask these prices because there are people that will give me this money. Yeah, yeah.

00:41:58:09 – 00:42:00:20

And this makes such a difference.

00:42:00:29 – 00:42:35:01

You just have to value your work and to be able to have the courage to ask for this because photography is my main income. I don’t work somewhere else. I don’t have another income. So if photography doesn’t bring me enough to sustain my life than I don’t have other options, I mean, I have other options, but I don’t want to have other options. And you just have to have the courage to ask for your prices for the prices that truly are giving you the life you want.

00:42:35:25 – 00:42:49:20

Yeah, absolutely. It really can. And I love that it’s your only income and that you’re making it work for for you. And you know, it’s you’ve come a long way from working at a bank nine to six that you didn’t get to be in Greece for a month for you.

00:42:51:15 – 00:43:03:29

So that’s really awesome. I’m I’m so happy. I’m so happy for you, and I feel like it’s, you know, with 2020 being your best year yet or twenty twenty one, I mean, it’s it’s only going to get better from here. Yes.

00:43:04:12 – 00:43:16:16

And we have to remember that in 2020, we didn’t work the full year. We had a few months that we weren’t allowed to work. So if 2020 was that best, let’s see what the future brings.

00:43:16:28 – 00:43:30:06

Mm hmm. Well, I’m excited for you, and I really appreciate you sharing you, sharing your story with us and with the listeners. And you know, it’s always good for us to interview people out of the States because I just want people to know that you can do this.

00:43:30:19 – 00:44:11:08

Yes, you really can. But you have to believe in yourself, and you have to stop comparing yourself to two others, and you just have to believe in your abilities. And if you think you don’t have the abilities, then go study. Because I mean, when I started my photography business, I was working at a bank and at night I was, I was listening to workshops, I was learning editing, I was learning photography, and I would go to sleep at 3:00 in the morning and then I woke up at 7:00 and go to work.

00:44:11:21 – 00:44:15:12

And that was my my life for a whole year.

00:44:15:21 – 00:44:44:00

So, yeah, yeah, that’s how I did it too. It was every moment that I had extra, you know, because I had the full time job as well as social work. And that’s what I did. 24-7. I was like, Yes, you know, right into it. And yeah, yeah, if you really wanted to make it work, you just you have to find a way. It’s not always easy. It’s not always pretty. But when you’re that excited about something and it’s just like, you know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, it keeps you going.

00:44:44:10 – 00:45:10:09

Yes, yes. And I always knew that since I was little, I always knew that I’m not the type of person to stay behind a desk and to work from 9:00 to 5:00. I really, I really wasn’t. And in the last weeks working at the bank, I really, really started to hate my job and I was thinking of leaving, of leaving. And I was just seeing the moment come and it came.

00:45:10:14 – 00:45:24:22

So yeah, yeah. Oh, so awesome. So awesome. Well, thank you so much. I do have a couple more questions for you that I always ask at the end of each episode. Oh, and the first one is what is something you can’t live without when you’re doing a photo shoot,

00:45:25:04 – 00:45:31:24

something I can’t live without? Well. My camera my client, of course,

00:45:34:23 – 00:46:10:22

but I can literally do a photo shoot in a corner of the room if you if you’ll let me. But I need connection. This is the one thing that I can’t live without. I like to feel connected to my clients. I like to feel them as they are my closest friends. And if this connection doesn’t exist, I don’t think I could capture my clients the way I do, because always at the end of the session, they are in the know they they walk with a different attitude.

00:46:10:24 – 00:46:35:10

They are more, how should I say, courageous? They are more aware of their beauty and they have a totally different attitude than the one they came in with. And this is because we connect during the totally. Yeah, that’s awesome. The connection is my it’s my thing that I couldn’t live with.

00:46:36:02 – 00:46:57:29

I love that response. I think it’s so important. I think that’s what keeps people talking about you and telling people about you. Is that really strong connection. Like in my email template guide, that’s something that I call it connect because it is so much of it. Not only are there the email templates in it, but it’s also talking about how to connect with your clients so that they keep telling people about you. It’s so important I

00:46:58:01 – 00:47:01:18

know I have them at home. Oh, you do you mean yes?

00:47:02:01 – 00:47:07:08

Oh, awesome. Oh good. I’m glad it’s in the boardroom as their star now, which is very exciting.

00:47:07:10 – 00:47:12:02

Oh, nice. No, I got it when there were on your site, I think,

00:47:12:15 – 00:47:18:03

oh, long time ago. Update, I sent an update to everyone who bought it a couple of years ago. I updated it

00:47:18:12 – 00:47:31:11

because that mail that I used to buy to get the the the email, the connection emails, it’s full of subscriptions and letters

00:47:31:13 – 00:47:32:14

and I’ll send it to you.

00:47:32:16 – 00:47:39:10

I have 5000 emails unread. I don’t know how to erase them without erasing the important one.

00:47:40:03 – 00:47:42:18

Yeah, I’ll send you. I’ll send you the update later today. Thank you.

00:47:42:20 – 00:47:43:05

Thank you.

00:47:43:18 – 00:47:55:18

I’m glad you brought that up because now I can send it to you. That’s awesome. OK, next question is what is? How do you spend your time when you’re not working as well?

00:47:56:14 – 00:48:00:10

As I told you, I am the lazy entrepreneur. I love that.

00:48:02:25 – 00:48:34:19

I’ve got free time every day and it starts with my mornings that I do my drink, my coffee. I do my meditation. I dance for, I don’t know, 10 15 minutes. I just put some TikTok trending music. I just dance. I take care of my skincare routine. I do my skincare routine. I like to read very much so beside my Kindle. I’m always buying books, physical books, and I don’t have anywhere to put them.

00:48:36:06 – 00:48:51:19

I have to buy a new library, a new place to put them. I like to go out. I like to travel very much. But since with this pandemic, I can travel that much, but I miss it so much and.

00:48:53:17 – 00:48:56:11

I like to watch movies too much, Netflix, I think

00:48:57:28 – 00:49:01:13

this sounds amazing, I like to come live with you for a couple of weeks and leave my kids at home.

00:49:04:06 – 00:49:20:25

I live near a park so we can go to the park. There is a lake. It’s beautiful here. That’s when I feel when I have free time, I just sit still. I enjoy the stillness and I enjoy laying around.

00:49:21:07 – 00:49:22:17

Yeah, me too.

00:49:23:00 – 00:49:27:07

So good like a cat or a dog. I’m a dog person, but

00:49:28:16 – 00:49:34:08

I love it. I love it, Alina. OK, number three. What is your favorite inspirational quote?

00:49:34:25 – 00:50:27:24

I was listening to a podcast when I found this. I don’t know what podcast it was, but I found this. This so quote We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are by Anais Nin. And they just gave me chills and is giving me chills right now because, you know, it has so much to do with my philosophy behind my business because women are not just beautiful on the outside and it’s not about the body of the body or the weight or the the age, or I don’t know the hair color or the skin color or your height or anything, but it just has to do with that interior, that power that you have inside of you, that courage

00:50:27:27 – 00:50:40:09

That vulnerablity, that beauty that is inside of you. And this quote is, I don’t know, it just gives me chills every time I see it. Yeah, I love it.

00:50:40:21 – 00:50:41:23

Yeah. Very beautiful.

00:50:42:24 – 00:50:43:09

Thank you.

00:50:43:21 – 00:50:47:23

OK, number four, what would you tell people who are just starting out?

00:50:48:15 – 00:50:53:00

Oh God, I have a full list here. How much time do I have?

00:50:54:03 – 00:50:54:21

Go for it,

00:50:55:07 – 00:51:31:05

but keep it short. Don’t compare yourself to others. It’s, I think, the most important lesson that someone can learn because each of us is in a different stage of life of business. And if you’re compared to someone that has, I don’t know, you want to. When I started doing weddings, for example, I always compared myself with Jerry Jones. Mm-Hmm. And I wanted to shoot like him. But of course I couldn’t because I was just starting out and I didn’t have the skills or the, I don’t know, not even the technical stuff I didn’t have.

00:51:31:19 – 00:51:59:02

But I was so drawn to his photos, and I was always comparing my work to his work until I realized that I don’t have to do this because it just lowers your confidence. If you do this? Yeah. So don’t compare yourself to others. Just do your best at the moment. Learn. Always learn. Always learn. Always practice. Because practice makes us perfect.

00:51:59:07 – 00:52:00:18

Oh, definitely.

00:52:01:03 – 00:52:25:20

Then I’ve got a quote that’s so is always saying, and it’s just got stuck with me. Done is better than perfect. And just do it. Don’t wait for the perfect picture. For the perfect moment, for the perfect believe, for the perfect studio, for the perfect. I don’t know prices.

00:52:27:07 – 00:52:35:12

Just put it out. Just do it. Put it out, and you will have time to perfect it. But just put it up.

00:52:36:12 – 00:52:37:26

Awesome. That’s great advice.

00:52:38:07 – 00:53:08:12

Yes, and another very important lesson is to learn how to say no because I’ve done so, so many projects that I I didn’t feel they were for me, but I did them anyway because I was, I don’t know, I thought that they will bring me clients, that I thought that they will propel me into being better into being known into.

00:53:08:25 – 00:53:41:05

And they didn’t in the end, because my body and my intuition knew from the beginning that those projects were not good for me was not a good fit for me. So learn to say no. Yeah, yeah. And in the end, you’ll have to find your niche. You have to find the one thing that makes you makes you happy because you if you as I as I told you, I tried doing newborns. I tried photographing families.

00:53:42:02 – 00:53:58:23

I did weddings, but none of them brings me as much joy as portraits and boudoir for women. It doesn’t give me that connection. It doesn’t give me that feeling of that joy.

00:53:59:14 – 00:54:25:20

Mm hmm. You know, joy is so important. Yeah, it’s so important. Sue and I talked about that in our last was it our last one? And one of the ones that I interviewed her for on this podcast about her is you don’t have the joy. You’re not going. Want to keep doing it? Yes. And if you’re not feeling joy, I mean, of course, we get burned out. Sometimes it’s not like we always have to feel the joy. But sometimes, you know, we always have to make sure that joy is still there at some point.

00:54:25:24 – 00:54:54:15

Yes, for example, right now, I am trying to find out about more about a coaching system, for example, to coach my clients in confidence and self-esteem, body positivity and all of this. And I’m learning new things to put in my business to integrate into my business. So I don’t lose this passion. So I feel the joy. Mm hmm. Absolutely. It’s very important.

00:54:55:18 – 00:54:58:02

OK, last question where can people find you online, Alina?

00:54:59:01 – 00:55:10:16

Well, most of the time I’m on Instagram. There I spend my most time I used to hate Instagram when it first went out on the market. But now I love it. I love doing reels.

00:55:11:27 – 00:55:13:23

You’re great at them. You do a lot of good ones.

00:55:14:11 – 00:55:28:15

Thank you. Yeah, I love them. I simply love them. I’m also on Facebook with a page, but I don’t really go on Facebook as much. And of course, on my website, Alina Botica dot URL.

00:55:29:03 – 00:55:35:14

I love your name. Alina Botica. It just comes out like a line about I just love it. I love your name.

00:55:35:26 – 00:55:36:13

Thank you.

00:55:36:19 – 00:55:38:27

It was such a great name. Yeah.

00:55:39:07 – 00:56:04:12

Yeah. My mom gave me my, my name, my Alina. It comes from well in Romanian. It’s like endearment or something that. That caresses deal. Something that when you’re sad and just takes it away. And yeah, sure. Yeah, I love it. So, yeah, very cool.

00:56:05:00 – 00:56:11:18

Well, thank you again, and I really appreciate you spending time to to do this. And I hope you get to go to Greece soon.

00:56:11:20 – 00:56:18:14

And oh, thank you very much, Nikki. It was a great pleasure and thank you very much for having me.

00:56:18:22 – 00:56:20:12

Absolutely, absolutely.

00:56:20:17 – 00:56:22:26

Well, I think Greece is for next year.

00:56:24:09 – 00:56:32:19

Yeah. Yeah, hopefully, yes. All right, my dear, you have a wonderful day and I will see you in the group and on Instagram. Yes.

00:56:32:25 – 00:56:33:14

Thank you very

00:56:33:16 – 00:56:35:01

much. OK, take care.

00:56:35:09 – 00:56:35:28

Bye bye.

Thank you so much for listening to the Portrait System Podcast. Your five-star reviews really help us to continue what we do. So, if you like listening, would you mind giving us a review wherever you listen? I also encourage you to head over to, where you can find all of the education you need to be a successful photographer. There are over 1,000 on-demand educational videos on things like posing, lighting, styling, retouching, shooting, marketing, sales, business, and self-value

There’s also the 90 Day Startup Challenge, plus so many downloads showing hundreds of different poses. We have to-do checklists for your business, lighting PDFs, I mean truly everything to help make you a better photographer and to make you more money. Once again, that’s