About Heather McKay and Parallax Life

About Parallax Life travel blogger

My name is Heather McKay and I’m a professional photographer, business coach for creatives, and avid travel hacker.

I have been a professional wedding and portrait photographer for nearly two decades and now I’m a business coach for creatives who struggle to sell products.

I built a six-figure wedding photography business at a snail’s pace because I didn’t charge what I was worth early enough and my passion is in saving others the same fate. It burned me out and I needed a 7-week off-the-grid vacation to recuperate.

Now, I get to work remotely around the world as I help other creative entrepreneurs move past their money and sales fears so they can build a thriving and profitable business.

I help them attract the right clients so that selling feels fun.

After being introduced to my first darkroom in my junior high school metal shop class, my entire life became photography. It started with dressing up my sisters in silly clothes and taking pics of them in the driveway.

In high school, I became enthralled with alternative photography processes and had a blast putting my friends in front of my lens (in more silly costumes!), I even won a few regional contests.

Photography kept me out of so much trouble, since I was always documenting the crazy things my friends were doing instead. There was never a time when a camera was out of my hand and all of my time was spent in the darkroom. Oh, the yellow fingers and the smell of developer!

I took all of the photography classes my high school offered and then went on to get a Bachelor’s degree in photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Yes, the theme was also dressing friends up in funny costumes.

With no job prospects or training for the real world of photography, I moved home to Texas with my tail between my legs.

After the rite of passage that is a three-month solo backpacking journey around Europe, I got a job at a professional photo lab so I could get all of my film developed. 

film darkroom in a high school
how o become a full time photographer

Did I mention that photography has been my life?

While working for the photo lab, I learned all about running a profitable business.

This experience taught me about average sales, costs of goods sold, and how to read a profit and loss report.

The more profitable my photo lab was to the company directly influenced how many payroll hours I received for employees. Having help made my job easier, so my I quickly learned how to make that happen.

This is where I honed my sales tactics, by pushing more profitable items over time consuming ones. I mean, it takes the same amount of time and energy to print a 4×6 ($.39) as it does an 8×10 ($4.99). So I pushed the 8x10s!

Quickly, I became a Regional Trainer for the entire district. It was challenging and exciting to write and teach classes to my Photo Lab Managers on how to print better quality photos for their customers, how to use & sell cameras, and how to read their monthly financial reports so they too could earn more payroll hours. The gig also came with a company car and a lot of daily freedom! Perfect!

It turns out that I love teaching and I love math!

Teaching others and seeing them thrive is so rewarding as an instructor. Having others succeed is a direct reflection on my own ability to coach and inspire, which in turn fills me with pride. The challenge of having to figure out 20 different ways to explain the same thing in order for a student to finally ‘get it’ keeps me interested and learning myself. Especially when it comes to math.

I never realized how easy math was for me. I just never thought about it. I only realized I loved math when I started getting excited trying to show someone how being more profitable directly impacts their own day-to-day life. When my students see me all lit up about perfect pricing formulas, they get excited too. I love that look on their face when everything finally clicks!

When digital photography was outpacing film, my friends were all starting to get married. At the time, I saw the writing on the wall with my thriving photo lab career getting downsized and I also thought that my friend’s $1000 wedding photography budget was a crap ton of money.

I quickly learned on my first wedding that $1000 goes QUICKLY. There was my new $650 lens and a good $450 in film and processing. Oh, and $80 for a wedding photojournalism class.


So there I was, hoping to pocket two week’s salary in one day and I had already lost money.

Something had to change, because I also realized the shocker of all shockers: I friggin LOVE photographing weddings. I love managing the crazy personalities and I love trying to get the World’s most interesting photo while chasing people in funny costumes.

It is the most challenging type of photography there is. Each day is completely different from the previous wedding day… the lighting, the location, the people, the expectations.

At the beginning, my mentor just picked a number for me to charge. After a handful of wedding photography gigs, I’d gain confidence and ask her again, “what should I charge now?” and she again would just say, “Oh, I guess charge $X now.”

One day, I woke up and realized that there had to be a better way to know how much I was worth.

That’s when I got serious, joined professional photography organizations and sought out the information that I needed on how to set realistic prices for my photography.

Parallax Life blog and photography business mentor for pricing

Skip forward and now I'm the go-to person for other Photographers who need advice.

I’ve built a six-figure wedding & portrait photography business at a snail’s pace because I didn’t have the business tools, pricing know-how, and confidence that I needed to run a profitable photography business.

It took me way too long to replace my day job (5 years) and even longer before I hit six figures in total sales (10 years). What held me back was a solid pricing & marketing plan with a mindset to match.

Over the years, I’ve been the go-to person for other photographers. I have a knack for inspiring photographers to follow their true passion and give them laser focus on how to price and market their photography niche. I have so much fun brainstorming and guiding photographers in figuring out the sweet spot with their pricing, showing them how to offer albums and wall art instead of digital files, and give them a heads up to what trends are coming to our industry next.

Some call me the Den Mother because I always give them the advice that I wish I had as I was building my business. Like a parent, I want to save them the time and struggle that I had in pricing my work and earning a decent living with photography. I want other photographers to be self sufficient faster than I was.

Why are we all reinventing the wheel? There is a short cut. That short cut is knowing up front how to run a small business, set it up for financial success, and then finding customers who can afford our work.

After years of watching my first clients totally kill it with their business and sales, I’m now a business coach for photographers and other creatives who struggle with charging what they are worth.

Now I get to change lives.

Today, I get to help amazing creatives turn their art into a real career that supports their lifestyle. I love my work as a business coach, and every single day I’m thankful for the opportunity to make a tangible difference in my client’s lives, starting with a repeatable pricing formula that works at any level and with any product and ending with inspiring them into focused action.

Not to mention the awesome-sauce that is traveling the world and working remotely, thanks to streamlining my business processes.

I would love to hear from you! Check out my Work With Me Page or send me an email at heather (at) parallaxlife.com to find out how I can help you streamline your pricing and business in order to build a thriving business around your art.

top 10 software tool for location independent workers
photography mentor and business coach Heather McKay

Features and Press:

entrepreneur mentors and podcasts
The Inspired Entrepreneur Podcast
photography blog for how to run a business
JPEG Mini Blog
how to price your services for online entrepreneurs
Your Online Genius Podcast
small business mentors
The Corporate Misfit Club
Nikon Professional Photographers who mentor and coach photographers on how to sell products
Nikon Pro Magazine
The Points Guy Blog
Wedding PhotoJournalist award winner
Wedding PhotoJournalist Association

What is Parallax Life?

Parallax is a photography term from the old film rangefinder cameras. Parallax is what happens when you look through the viewfinder of a camera and the lens captures the same scene, yet just slightly off. 

This is what happens when you see an amazing stock photo of a travel destination vs. what your experience was when you are actually in that scene.

Alternately, parallax is what you are trying to build with your business and wondering why it didn’t come out as you hoped?!!

Your eyes see the scene differently from your camera.

–>> As a business mentor and travel brand photographer, I’m here to help you bridge that gap between expectations and reality.