Homegrown Business: Cedna Portrait Stories

Cedna Portrait Stories is a boutique portrait photography studio in Calgary with a focus on creating unforgettable portraits and inspiring individuals to embrace their individuality. We spoke with Cedna Todorovic, the owner and principal photographer of Cedna Portrait Stories, to learn more about what they do.

Cedna Portraits Stories

What is your business called and what does it do?

My business is called Cedna Portrait Stories (Pronounced Che-dna) a boutique portrait photography studio based in Calgary, AB – dedicated to telling real stories of real people in an authentic and soulful way. My mission is to make people feel seen and valued and to show them a side of themselves they have never seen before. Through my work, I strive to inspire people to embrace their individuality with compassion and courage.

What made you want to do this work?

I know what it’s like to be a woman struggling to see her own worth and find her voice and the importance of finding your way back to yourself again – to self-love & courage. I believe that self-compassion is not synonymous with vanity and that the relationship we hold with ourselves is the foundation of everything else in life.

I believe there is infinitely more to us as human beings than the reflection we see in the mirror. In a fast-paced and increasingly disposable world, I believe that everyone deserves to exist in mindfully crafted portraits that convey emotion, depth and are rich in truth, – deserving to be remembered. I wanted to create an experience that is centred around a human approach and intentional presence, which seeks to engage and connect with people in a way that celebrates their experiences, character and our collective humanness.

What problem did you want to solve with the business?

Our self-perception is increasingly skewed in today’s world. I wanted to show that photography can serve a purpose beyond just standard Christmas family sessions or fall minis. I wanted to create power portraits that that inspire change and challenge how people, particularly women see themselves – to reflect back to them how I see them and experience them. I see people with wonder, beauty and potential and we often aren’t aware of how we are seen by others, by our friends, family, and those who love us. Fundamentally I believe that once we are able to truly see ourselves for who we are, that’s when magic unfolds – that’s when we can truly step into our power, claim our unique voice and live with intention. Women also lose a lot of their identity as they go through life, particularly after a life-altering event such as having children, an illness or divorce. Providing a platform for them to reconnect with who they are and what’s important to them or who they aspire to be has been the most rewarding.

Who are your clientele/demographics?

My clientele is primarily women over the age of 35, men, families and small to medium-sized businesses. They are people who value art, creative expression, experiences over things and self-development/growth. They may be in a transition in life and are looking to reconnect with themselves and or celebrate a new milestone. They are people with stories, grit, people who may have overcome adversity in life and are ready to acknowledge and celebrate their own beauty, resilience, courage and character. They wish to inspire others and be inspired themselves, they are interested in human connection, are striving for more in life, value self-expression, relationships and family.

How does your business make money? How does it work?

I have four streams or genres of photography I specialize in. The business makes money through collection of a session fee (service portion) and then purchase of actual products (whether digital or print format). I also offer custom wall art, albums and speciality products that allow people to have their images in tangible format for display in their homes, places of work etc.

– Portrait Experience (women, men, children, high school grads, generation sessions, dancers, maternity)

– Personal Branding for small businesses

– Business headshots

– Lifestyle Family Sessions (outdoor photography)

What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services? Give the answer as well.

Tell me what made you start your business or why are you passionate about what you do. What makes your services different?

I started my business because I wanted to create intentional portraits that inspire people to embrace their individuality and story with compassion and courage. It was important to me to create a truly unique experience that fused meaningful human connection and an elevated client experience to allow people to feel seen & worthy. I wanted to give women particularly permission to embrace what is, to celebrate themselves, self-express, reconnect and see themselves beyond just their physical form. Beyond that I am passionate about sharing people’s stories alongside their portraits, learning about them and interviewing them throughout our time together. Creating legacy artwork worthy of being remembered and passed down through generations was a byproduct of the experience itself, which comes first.

I don’t offer typical run-of-the-mill, revolving door photography services and I don’t offer mini-sessions which are often in the industry associated with quick and cheap. We serve only a specific number of clients each month in order to give everyone the attention and service they deserve. As a full-service studio, our process from initial discovery to order delivery is quite involved with a focus on personalization, customization, quality and excellence. Being a technically skilled or competent photographer is only part of the equation, you could have equally skilled photographers in that regard however what will set them apart is their creative vision, their experiences, their ability to interact and develop trust with people, the service they provide and the way they make people feel. I always say I am in the business of making people feel valued more than I am in the business of being a photographer.

What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?

The best part of what I do is the opportunity to serve my clients in ways that are meaningful, personal and which go beyond just creating beautiful art for them. In this highly digital and increasingly disconnected age we live in, it’s been amazing to offer a service that makes people feel seen, heard and connected at a human level. I love meeting diverse individuals from all backgrounds and walks of life and creating a space where they trust me enough to share some of their most vulnerable stories and details with me. Being told by women how I have challenged and transformed how they see themselves, helped them reconnect with themselves, elevated their business or how I portrayed their family and children in ways they have never seen before is the most rewarding experience. The trust my clients extend to me enables me to distil their emotions, energy, experiences and character into authentic portraits that they feel are reflective of who they are and go beyond the surface of a merely pretty image.

I don’t think there are really any terrible parts to my work. I would say the least gratifying are the endless behind-the-scenes aspects of running a business that many people don’t see or aren’t even aware exist. I used to take offence when I would hear someone speak about my work as this glorified hobby in the sense of ‘How difficult can it really be, you just take pictures”. It’s sometimes a very ungrateful job because people only see the final product/outcome and disregard the work, time, effort, education, sweat and tears that go into running a sustainable and robust business regardless of what product/service you provide. The business side is the same and that’s often undervalued.

What is your favourite joke about your own profession?

What is the easiest way for a photographer to make money? Sell their equipment

You must have a really great/expensive camera

Can I just get the unedited images for a lower cost?

Where can we follow you?

Website | Instagram | Facebook

PAY IT FORWARD: What is another local business that you love?

Compassionate Beauty, Vera Causa, Pink Spot Studios, Please Organize My Life and Emilia Beauty Art.


About Sabrina Greggain-Lord 15 Articles
My name is Sabrina Greggain-Lord, I live in Montreal and I am a Community Outreach worker for the Guardian. I am passionate about writing and bringing recognition to those doing wonderful work within their communities.