How Photographer Aliyah Dastour Achieved 6-Figures in a Recession


In today’s economy, the once cliché “struggling artist” is becoming a thing of the past. This has largely been due to artists like Aliyah Dastour, who are doing what they love and living comfortably. Unfortunately, the struggle is real for many photographers in the industry. It’s a brutal cycle that starts with not making enough money to make ends meet, which then leads to being unable to afford the necessary equipment and supplies or even taking on new clients because of low funds. For some, it’s been years since they’ve seen any significant growth in their income, and they are just barely scraping by. Aliyah has come up with a way to help those who want success as photographers to break through in the industry. This tested and true method is what she used to achieve 6-figures during a recession after falling on hard times for several years.

Aliyah began her career as a headshot photographer in the Northern Virginia area about 13 years ago. Few things bring her more joy than capturing her clients’ personalities in the form of headshots, which took years to master. Throughout her career, Aliyah has worked with over 10,000 clients, successfully opened two studios in the DMV area, launched a community project called The Loudoun 100 Project, built a successful business as a studio portrait/headshot photographer, and donated over $100K back to the community through non-profits. However, she has not always been this successful and impactful.

Despite being a talented photographer, it took many years, about ten to be exact, before Aliyah discovered something that changed her career. In the recession of 2020, Aliyah had to get creative. With clients cutting back on their spending and photographers not booking as many sessions, it felt like it would be forever before things got better. However, that period also created a need for new services as digital marketing took off across industries. Companies and individuals started taking their branding efforts a step further, and that’s when Aliyah saw her opening. As an experienced headshot photographer, she knows how to capture each person in a way that allows them to stand out and build a brand around their personality while looking approachable and professional.

With hundreds of happy clients to prove she knows her stuff, Aliyah started targeted marketing campaigns no one else in the industry was doing. She applied her knowledge and skills to craft powerful pitches and offers for her networking activities. Her knack for unearthing the personalities beneath the surface and bringing them to life through the lens won her many clients, and she didn’t disappoint. She continued to extract and develop each person’s brand and share it creatively through photos on social media, even when her clients weren’t aware of what their brand was about.

Unlike other high-ticket photographers, Aliyah also concentrated on providing high-quality digital images without including physical products to sell. As the business grew, she expanded her services to the community and donated time, energy, and money to local nonprofits. Aliyah’s efforts paid off, and her business expanded to even greater heights. Today she not only serves clients in multiple locations, but she also helps other photographers scale their businesses through coaching and training. Her mission is to help over 1,000 photographers build 6-figure incomes and enjoy their craft even during hard times.

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