A Photography Biz in a Box


I feel stupid. I admit I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed. I have to use my index finger when figuring out clockwise vs. counter-clockwise; it wasn’t until recently I found out that capers are the buds of a flower and not teeny tiny olives; and I made it all the way to my sophomore year in high school before discovering the name of the book is “Catcher in the Rye” and not “Catch HER in the Rye.”

But still, I thought I pretty much had this photography thing figured out.  I’ve been working really hard in my business for many, many years. During the holiday busy season, I would go days without a shower, living in my pajamas, throwing Cheetos at my kids for dinner from my desk as I worked feverishly to meet deadlines and deliver clients orders. I educated myself; I pushed myself; I ended my day not when I was tired, but when I was done. I did it all to grow my business.

And now, I’m embarrassed.

I had no idea that I was doing it all wrong. I mean, ALL wrong, for I didn’t know until yesterday that I could join “moms all over the world who are making Full Time Incomes in their Spare Time” with this complete “Biz in a Box”:

A screenshot of

A screenshot of

Now, I’ve put years into this industry. Close to 30, to be exact, but now…now I just feel stupid. Because with this innovative new system that requires absolutely:

NO prior photography or photo editing experience

NO expensive equipment and…

NO marketing knowledge

YOU can have a successful photography career.


I know what you’re thinking — this is too good to be true. I felt the same way at first, but remember, the naysayers said the same about weight loss pills and that cream that takes 20 years off your appearance.

Intrigued? I knew you would be. Let me explain a little about how it works.

First of all, you need a camera. The website says that while a digital SLR would be ideal, all you really need is a basic compact digital camera. Don’t have that? Turn that frown upside down! The website goes on to say that even a decent camera phone can work! (This had me sold immediately!)

Next, buy the marketing kit and templates and get your first clients, snap a few pictures, do some simple editing, or let their team of Photoshop artists do it for you, and BOOM! You’ve got fantasy portraits that rival any amusement park green screen photo-op!


The best part? You “only work when and IF you want to;” you can roll out of bed and enjoy time with your family, knowing you are providing the absolute best for your children. And you can expect to make, “typically…in the ball park of roughly $500 per hour of photography.” After all, the site points out, it doesn’t take very long to “snap a few good photos and do the editing.” 

Now, before you start planning which vacation home to purchase or which new car to buy with your new lucrative business, remember: this is not going to happen completely on its own. As the site says, “this isn’t one of those shady “biz opps” floating around the internet promising thousands of dollars for little or no work.” You are going to need to want it. You will need to put in a little bit of time to go over the materials and practice a few hours a week for about a month.

Hey, this is no free ride, people.

So, there it is: a photography biz in a box. No more long hours shooting; no more editing at a computer until my eyes cross and no more heaving around a heavy camera. Yeah, I’m embarrassed that I spent all that time working on my photography business but I will be gentle with myself.

After all, sometimes it hurts to grow.

(Note: The program is marketed toward moms, but I’m sure it works for dads, too. Just use your wife’s name when you sign up.)

Update: The website has been updated with the following message:


ATTENTION: Seems this site is ticking off a lot of professional photographers at: Funny how they all complain that you can’t make money in photography without years of hard work. Well it’s their choice to struggle and they take great pride in bashing marketers like me. I’m not a real photographer… I’m just happen to earn a darn good income marketing snapshots like you see on this site! We must be doing something right to be upsetting the so call pros!

Image credit: DHL delivery by bikracer

  • Matthew Newberg

    You should sign up, and see what services they offer. I could see this easily being a multi part series.

  • Christoffer

    Best post ever! I’m with Matthew here. Purchase it, and see what it has to offer, and make a new post ;) This is a fun read!

  • Adam Cross

    well, i’m sold.

  • originalmrbeard

    you should so sign up, post any training materials, advice or tips. i want to know that the moms are getting decent training

  • alextardif

    jesus… the promo video is… disturbing
    what a great find, thanks for the Friday laughs

  • JB

    Comic Sans: the instant red-flag

  • Jason Kirby

    Is this a legitimate promotion this website or a sarcastic approach to starting a photography business?

  • Antonio Carrasco

    WTF u talking about? Everybody knows you use Comic Sans when you want to let people know you mean BUSINESS!!!

  • Antonio Carrasco

    Before we get all angry about this, keep in mind it’s just one of hundreds of get rich quick scams that you see on Craigslist everyday… Stuffing envelopes, mystery shopper, etc..

  • splashtrack

    I finished browsing the whole site and ALWAYS found the same sample images!! I was expecting a huge gallery of examples telling me that I’m an idiot pretending make money shooting motorsports hhahahahahahha

  • KevinNewsome

    I’m embarrassed too. Embarrassed for the industry, and embarrassed for the souls who invest their meager earnings in elixirs like this. There is no “easy money” in photography. There’s money, but it’s going to cost you blood, sweat, tears, and a whole lot of work. Thanks for the heads up. More “programs” like this should be called out more often.

  • peaceetc

    I have to say I’m really enjoying the addition of Cheri Frost to the PetaPixel roster. She brings a bit of fun plus a fair bit of knowledge.

  • Ansel Adams, Jr

    to think of all the time I wasted in college, in real life, and mentoring peeps in pshop and photography…I think I will quit my job, sell my belongings and just take up the crusade for this site…

  • Heath Hurwitz

    Looks like they are from Australia.
    Enchanted Portraits by Steve and Susha Shulenski

  • harumph
  • kjb

    1996 called, they want their website back

  • Jason K

    And then people will look back at their baby pictures and suddenly realize that they’ve all been “photographed” in the same hat box.

  • SpaceMan

    As an Australian, all I can say is – I’m very very sorry

  • Guu

    The result of photography having become too available for anyone … including Mr and Mrs Shulenski and possibly other scammers in future …

  • Garett hernandez

    I am a photojournalist for the Army and every time I am covering an event with families in it I get some women giving me her card explaining she a photographer. When you go to the site or Facebook page it’s the same stuff as every other mom with a camera. In this area they all use the same presets and filters. The worst is when they have better equipment then me and assume they are the better photographer. I could go on and on but I will stop here.

  • KevinNewsome

    Hey, Australia hasn’t cornered the market on idiocy like this. We Americans take great pride in leading the pack, even when it comes to stupidity. :-)

  • Thomas Mulchi

    quote from their ‘website': Your initial investment is $495 plus $19.95 per month to remain active. We also offer $795.00 Live Training Workshops and Seminars for beginners… unqote

    now that’s a bargain!

  • Mike Sivčević

    Yes, it is from Australia and we as a nation would like to apologise. However, considering the ‘thing’ is located in Bundaberg, it explains it all.

  • Theose

    Whats in the box!!!?

  • Yourformercolonialmasters

    Now now children, don’t squabble: you’re both idiots.

  • don giannatti

    I don’t see the problem. I wish her all the luck in the world.

    BTW, my new course “Becoming an Astronaut in a Box” will be available for $23,456,723.92 starting later today.

    I should explain that while I have absolutely no experience with actually being an astronaut, in this digital age it really doesn’t matter. I have Wikipedia and some cool video games.

    (Also important… becoming an astronaut will not take place inside a box, that was just my clever marketing genius there – and although it is confusing, my wife thinks it rocks.)

    Hurry, act soon. I only need to sell one of these and then… Belize – here I come.

  • Fred

    I’m sure Cheri will eventually stop producing snide articles like this making fun of people because we are sooo much better than them right??!!

    If you want to document all the trash on the internet it will take a long time. I prefer the articles on petapixel that have substance not the ones that clearly have a chip on their shoulder.

  • Helsby

    What a load of S**T.

    This idea isn’t new, it’s been going for years with fairy pics, etc, no one wants them, if it’s so good, why is she telling everyone and not just making sheds load of money!, because she can’t, she has to sell the “Dream” to everyone else and make money telling everyone how “they can make money”, ye right whatever!.

  • Stephen Shulenski

    Ha… I can tell you’re struggling getting business into your studio. You may be a photographer but it’s being a marketer that makes the money. That’s why a lot of Moms with camera’s will out earn you.


    Photography is like art… and…
    “Art is making something out of nothing and selling it” Frank Zappa

  • Darlene Hildebrandt

    well isn’t it true there are no more professional photographers anyway? At least according to the CEO of Yahoo/Flickr right? Oh wait she took that back! Wow, shocking. You’d never see this in any other industry. People don’t go buy a frying pan and say “I’m gonna open a restaurant” or buy a sporty car and think “I’m gonna be a race car driver” and boom you are?! Oh wait, I have dental floss in my cupboard maybe I’m a dentist!

  • Rob

    Kudo Stephen! I completely agree! Anyone can be a photographer. Why, I just saw on facebook a past client happily brag about his “first paying photoshoot”, and then offer a free session to another past client of mine. Much like relationships and sham marketers, there are plenty of other fish in the sea, so i’m not worried in the least – another will be along soon! What you have brilliantly done is to simply exploit daft “customers” with a weak vision of what could be, not what actually is. Honestly, spammers and telemarketers have been doing it for years, so at the very least, you should be given a pat on the back for taking the time to package it, instead of it being yet another blanket email from the united arab emirates seeking an a lucky recipient for $1.2M.

    If you hook a few, great for you, and lol to the ones who actually give you money! Modern marketing and consumerism is all about preying on the weak-minded, so if everyone else can have a go at this, don’t let people who have a stake in a passionate career tell you otherwise! I too may dabble – i may develop a packaged subscription model for businesses to create their own junk promotions, but not limit it to their own profession. I think a general format to “insert your product here” complete with branding and documentation would be a massive success. I mean, why should marketers have all the fun, and why should people have to wait to be sold garbage they don’t need when they can easily make money in their free time off other chumps?

    Hmmmmm… great idea! I know a few professional photographers that have creative legitimate marketing backgrounds that could develop such a package in a snap! ;)

  • Stephen Shulenski

    The thing is Rob… There are newbies turning into photographers everyday. You too were once a beginner. Every master was once a disaster. Be as sarcastic as you like. BUT THE FACTS ARE – They make money with my programs!

    Anyone can take a snapshot on a white background and turn it into a saleable portrait like one Mom recently did as seen in this sample. Better brush up on your marketing skills buddy!

  • Stephen Shulenski

    Excuse me but buying a camera and using it are the only way one can become a professional photographer. That pro-level expensive camera you own does not make you a professional. But a good photographer can create saleable portraits with a really cheap camera. And with my help… a lot of Mom’s are doubling their income working weekends only. Get use to it.

  • Rob

    Missed the point Stephen. I don’t need to brush up on marketing skills. What I’ll do is create a package that will teach these Moms how to become a power marketer, shilling junk packages to their lessers! I mean, why would they want to invest their time and money not only in buying your program, but gathering gear (and minimal expertise obviously) to become just another in a sea of (p)hoto hacks? It makes much more sense to open their eyes to the world of POWER MARKETING! They too, with minimal investment can buy my package that will launch them into their career of POWER MARKETING! Why settle on a overcrowded marketplace of digital photography when they can learn POWER MARKETING to an almost limitless client base! With my easy program, they’ll be able to develop a marketing strategy that teaches others to create award-winning, beautifully packaged mini cakes that Oprah herself would endorse! Or maybe a kit that saves other moms from paying high prices for simple vehicle maintenance like oil changes! Or even develop a kit that will train other moms how to be a level I electrician and give shoddy contractors a run for their money. Beauty of my idea is that with training moms in POWER MARKETING, they don’t have to limit themselves – they can just find something that interests them, develop and POWER MARKET a package that teaches it. And then watch the dollars pour in! So if i were you, I’d brush up on photography! ;)

  • Suz

    Well, you seem to be making crap out of crap. There is no art in what you’re doing. Maybe you can find a bunch of 5 year old girls with $$$ to spend, because that is your target audience for this hideous stuff.

  • Suz

    A REAL photographer can create a salable portrait with any camera…no crap “enhancements” needed.

  • Stephen Shulenski

    Oh… is that why I routinely do over $20,000 in sales from
    each weekend that I shoot?

    Yes I have to work hard to do that because my sales average is only $995 per client as it’s high volume shooting. One session every 30 minutes.

    I know a lot of photographers are averaging $3500 on family portraits but I’m not doing 3 hour family sessions here. I just focus on the kids. Yes its production line photography but the parent’s love it as proved by
    our sales stats! And these are parents who normally couldn’t afford your prices.

    What you have to realize miss high and mighty photographic artist is… you are not whom we compete against. Our competition is department store photography.

    Oh… the $20,000 weekends are only 3 to 4 times a year from when LivingSocial runs our deal. Most weekends when I do home portrait parties, after my expenses I only make around $5,000 per day. So yes you may be able to earn more than me by shooting and selling two 3 hour sessions in a day but I bet you aren’t getting a steady 10 – 12 clients each weekend.

    But at my age I no longer want to work so hard. So instead
    of criticising all the Mom’s who get a new camera from their husbands as Christmas gifts… we are organizing them and helping them via our membership sites.

    Sue, why don’t you show us the wonderful art that you create instead of criticising me, and maybe I’ll erect a statue to honour such a high and mighty critic.

    BTW… you can’t hurt my feeling because I know I’m not a
    great artist or photographer. That’s why I hire the world’s best digital artist. I just know what the masses want and I offer it to them for monthly payments that will fit their budget.

    Now everyone is happy except for all of the big shot
    photographers and artists who think they are above everyone else and that the world should recognize how great they are. Well maybe they will after you’re dead. In the meantime, I may not be a real artist like you think you are… but thankfully I’m not starving like one.

    Hey are you a good digital artist? We are hiring more talented Photoshop experts to keep up with the volume being shot by our new MWCs!

  • Stephen Shulenski

    Yes I know… I saw the crap on your blog and can tell you don’t do enhancements to please your clients. After seeing what you have there… I’m withdrawing the employment offer.

  • Suz

    My blog is about travel and I have no “clients” for it. Of course there are no “enhancements” as they are tourist snapshots…not professional portraits. I’m sure if I “enhanced” one of the photos with your methods, people would wonder why they didn’t see fairies and unicorns on their visit to Yosemite.

  • Stephen Shulenski

    Fairies and wizards are just one niche, babies are done style. Pets we do Hollywood glamour style & even underwater. Adults can choose a fantasy look like these here that we created with the backdrops from Remember, good photographers are a dime a dozen… but to make it big in the portrait industry requires a great marketing system. Newbies have less bad habits to unlearn than those who think they are already good photographers. But I’m sure you will find more to whine and cry about. So come on, give me your best shot.

  • Darlene Hildebrandt

    Don’t call me “Darling” hon!

  • Stephen Shulenski

    Sorry, your name is Darlene…
    You’re not a Darling…
    My mistake.

  • John_Skinner

    This guy is a handjob artist. If he was making the kind of dosh he’s wheeling around in here, he wouldn’t be trying to hawk some lame DVD.. And the prick is insulting too. And dude,, it’s your work that gets you jobs. Not being a marketer. But you wouldn’t know that… Cause you have squat to show for work. But you can try and sell this shite to people…and call YOURSELF a marketer if it floats yer boat.

    What a joke !

  • Pit

    why are you editors here allowing this guy to bash people who left comments and even link to his scam site every time he does.

  • Stephen Shulenski

    No it’s good marketing that gets me work. That’s why I pay so called professional photographers $25 per hour to photograph many of my sessions for me. They are better photographers than me but they work for me because they think being a better photographer will get them work. I can outsource the photography and edits and that free’s up my time to do more marketing while you are busy shooting a wedding I’m booking several more. It’s called teamwork but I understand most photographers who think they own a business are really just self-employed because that want to do everything themselves,,, find clients, shoot the images, do the edits, assemble albums, do the bookkeeping and lick the stamps are by themselves. They must enjoy the struggle or they are just to stupid to leverage their efforts by hiring others who may be good technicians but can’t sell or marketing. Send me your resume and go home, sit next to your phone and wait for your next job to call you.

  • Stephen Shulenski

    Maybe because it’s not a scam. Let’s see, I teach newbee’s how to find clients, how to take the portraits or pay an underemployed pro to do the shooting for them, same with doing the image edits… and how to show and sell the finished portraits… then cry babies like you get upset because newcomers are getting in on their action. Times are changing so adapt or become a dinosaur and stop your whining.