Two years ago, with the support of my husband, I quit full time ER nursing and whole heartedly chased my dream of running a photography business. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined where this wild photography journey would take me. But one things for sure, it’s been one hell of a ride, and I ain’t slowing down.
Below are some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way…..
ART is an emotional business. And that’s exactly what this is- MY ART. To many it’s just pretty pictures but the root of it all runs much deeper than “just pictures”. It’s my heart and soul poured into it. It’s sitting at my kitchen table with my head in my hands crying because I feel so overwhelmed. It’s waking up at 3 am to edit more pictures or waking up at 6 am to write down an idea that was just dreamed up. It’s pushing the post button on an image that I love more than anything. Art is emotional. It’s not for the weak of hearts. There have been a million times I’ve wanted to walk away. But the truth of the matter is, I can’t. I won’t. Not because I’ve worked hard to become the artist that I am but because the artist who I am is who I’m supposed to be.
NEVER say “Never”. Good gracious that’s the damn truth. When I started out, I said “I hate shooting kids. They kick sand in my camera bag. They won’t listen to me. I just won’t do it.” And I did just that, I went on a hiatus from shooting kids. But what I really didn’t like about shooting kids was I still wasn’t comfortable with my camera yet. It wasn’t an extension of my body yet. And I hadn’t yet found the way for me to happily shoot them and walk away feeling gratification. ENTER Lifestyle Photography. This is now how I shoot children. Capturing who they are, being a fly on the wall, giving them tasks, capturing the tickles, eskimo kisses, flour messes with mom. This is my happiness. And it turns out, it’s theirs too. I also said I’d never shoot weddings. I referred all the weddings to my friends. I gave every excuse in the book but what it truly came down to is I like to be in control and with weddings NO ONE is in control. The moment I realized that if I just went with the flow, found my target laid back brides and shot the day as a love story with a lifestyle documentary feel, I, then knew that everthing was falling into place. This year, I’ll be shooting a destination tropical wedding on the British Virgin Islands. Moral of my story. Never say never. You will grow and evolve and that’s what’s up. Take it in stride, laugh about your nevers, and keep on truckin’.
SUPPORT systems. They are key. To have the support of your family (most importantly your significant other), is necessary. To have those friends who kick your ass (in a good way) and encourage you to go after that dream you want to make a reality, is necessary. To have those friends who truly get you, hell yes, that’s necessary. To have fabulous networking groups, full of people who are doing the exact same thing you’re doing, is necessary. To be blessed to work with boutiques, hair, makeup and other small businesses, is not only necessary but it’s pretty much the coolest thing ever. The friendships that have been built and forged through photography is mind blowing. Find your support system and love the hell out of them.
SHOOTING from the heart and showing images that are exactly a direct reflection of who and what you want to shoot is key. In the beginning, I was floundering, shooting everything, showing everything, and attracting everything and everybody. But most importantly not attracting my target client. The moment I became meticulous and focused on stylish seniors, emotional and fun family shoots and lovely boudoir……was the moment my target client came calling. Best feeling in the world. Shoot what you love. Shoot what makes you feel. And shoot your heart out. It will bless you more than measure.
RUNNING a photography business, is just that, a business. Now, I knew this, but I really didn’t KNOW this. I swear at the beginning, I was certain it wasn’t going to be that complicated. Boy was I wrong. This business takes money and lots of it to run. The thousands of dollars in gear, website, branding, monthly fees, editing software, and taxes. That saying that the photography business is like 10% photography and 90% business is unfortunately (for me) true. But having a number savvy husband and fabulous accountant and doing lots and lots of research over the last two years, I’m happy to say, it’s doable. And although it’s painful at times…..it’s worth it.
CLIENTS are not “just clients”. The minute they invite me into their homes, trust me with their moments, and bless me with their openness……they become family. They are not just “clients”….they are so much more than that. When they graduate high school, get a new promotion, buy a new house or when something traumatic in their life happens…. Whether it be good or bad….I’m praying, laughing, crying and celebrating right along with them. It’s personal. Whether I photograph you just once, or a ton of times, you are family.
INVESTING in your business is so important. Investing in education is key. But being calculated and doing your research on what education your invest in is KEY. Not all photography education is created equal. Ask around, find out people who have taken the workshops, learned from those mentors, and taken classes, and find out their experiences. Over the last two years, I’ve attended some truly amazing classes and workshops and I’ve attended a few that I just gave my money to and walked away with nothing. It’s a live and learn thing but when you’re talking about money… do your research. And a quick note about investing into gear and lenses. You don’t have to have all the lenses in the world. I have 6-7 lenses, 3 cameras and only use 1 body and the 85mm and 35mm the majority of the time. Rent the lenses, figure out what you love and what you are going to shoot the most of and buy those. You don’t need it all.
CREATE a bucket list. Write it down. Put it where you can see it. Mark things off and you accomplish them. Make a plan to make things happen. Share your bucket list with your friends, family, social media…..Put it out there in the world. It will hold you accountable and make you work harder to accomplish it. I wholeheartedly believe there is power in positive thinking and putting your dreams out there.
FAMILY first. Always. And I learned that the hard way. I was taking shoots any day and everyday just because I was SO freaking excited to have a shoot. Then I was missing out on things and upsetting my family. Putting a shooting schedule in place and sticking to it was the best thing I’ve implemented over the past two years.
HUGE thank you to all of you who have supported me along the way, continue to support me with your sweet comments and continue to hire me to document your moments. It’s been one of the greatest blessings of my life. Here’s to a fabulous 2016!