You know what’s wild? Realizing that I’ve been running a small business for almost 6 years now.
But you know what’s even wilder? That I’ve been doing this business full-time for a whole year already.
This time last year, I was waving goodbye to my full-time marketing job and diving headfirst into photography. And man, what a wild ride it has been. Since going full-time, there’s been a mix of wins and losses. I’d be kidding myself if I said it’s all been smooth sailing and a natural transition. Butttt, like all the best things in life, it’s been a ton of work.
The first few months? All about figuring out boundaries. Then came a few months of freaking out about making money. It wasn’t until about 6 months in that I finally felt like I could really breathe and start to enjoy the perks of running my own business. Now that the chaos of making a really big life change is behind me, I took some time to look at the numbers from this year. Since I left my job last year, I have:
151 faces. That feels unbelievable. I’ve met 151 people to help capture some of the most significant moments in their lives, and that just blows my mind. I’m eternally grateful to everyone who continues to trust me with their memories.
Now, as I step into this 6th year of business and my first year full-time, I’m in a super reflective mode. And hey, maybe there are a few of you out there thinking about jumping into entrepreneurship. I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned about business, photography, and just life in general.
And that’s okay. I wish someone had told me early on that not everyone is going to love you or your work. Those who don’t like it often have the loudest voice in a room and are the ones whose comments you remember amidst a sea of compliments. I spent a few years in my business feeling the need to please everyone. I was so worried about what people thought of me that it actually affected how I presented my work. I started sharing things that I thought people would find cool, and stopped publishing the work I was truly proud of. Eventually, I got tired of this and began sharing things that I loved. The more passionate I became about those things, the more I started to attract clients who shared that passion. Once I let go of the idea that I was the photographer for everyone, I began to attract more clients who loved me for who I am.
I once met a photographer who told me they didn’t edit photos and simply sent every image to their clients via Google Drive. They said they liked to keep things simple. Hearing this, my heart sank. Was I overcomplicating things? But then I realized, my concern was for the clients. Imagine receiving over 500 unedited photos to sift through, having to adjust lighting, colors, and white balance, especially after the stress of organizing a family for a photoshoot.
This encounter made me determined to ensure that photoshoots were as hassle-free as possible for my clients. This includes everything from booking, outfit and location planning, to the photoshoot itself, and finally, the gallery delivery. As much as I would love to personally assist every client, I had to rethink how I could help many without burning out.
That’s where different systems come in. I utilize programs for email reminders, gallery deliveries, contact, and payment processing. Each of these ensures a seamless photoshoot experience. With the business aspects managed by these systems, I can enter a photoshoot creatively unburdened, not worrying about whether I sent the details or processed a payment. I learned early on that investing in the backend of your photoshoots makes the sessions much easier and more enjoyable.
In the early days of my career, I often heard a saying in photography circles: “you’re only as good as your glass,” which essentially means “you’re only as good as your equipment.”
But you know what’s really expensive for someone just starting out? Equipment. Diving into high-end gear and plunging into debt without any bookings is unwise. When I began, I used a Sony Alpha for two years before switching to Canon. And even then, I started with a base model. Looking back, is the newer equipment I have now much easier to use? Absolutely. But spending those initial years with older equipment really forced me to understand my camera inside and out. More importantly, it’s not just about having a good camera to take good photos. A skilled photographer can capture great shots with any type of equipment. So, don’t obsess over the gear – focus on honing your skills and talent. The right equipment will follow in due time.
This point is crucial for photographers: this is not your photoshoot. It might sound odd since you’re the one behind the camera, but these photos are not your story to tell. Therefore, when you arrive at your sessions, leave your own expectations at the door. Forget about how you want the images to look, or how you think people should pose. Your role is to be inspired by your clients. Let their personalities, their dynamics, their vibe guide how you do your job.
Every time I’ve approached a shoot with a preconceived list of shots, I’ve ended up disappointed. I realized I was imposing my agenda on my clients, rather than it being the other way around. Forcing a mother to act sweetly with her toddler who is being difficult, or asking a bride to smile while she’s standing next to her tearful mother, just isn’t genuine. Interrupting a tender moment between newlyweds for the sake of a photo is unfair.
My job is to meet people where they are. Whether it’s dealing with fussy kids or an overexcited mother-in-law, it’s my responsibility to embrace that energy and use it to create images that truly represent and resonate with you.
This tip might sound trivial, but it’s honestly one of the most valuable pieces of advice I can offer. Who gets cranky when they’re hungry? Literally everyone.
You’d be surprised how quickly a session can turn around in less than five minutes by simply taking a break to share a snack. It gives everyone a chance to pause, provides a moment for you to collect your thoughts during stressful times, and offers everyone a chance to laugh at the silliness of being hangry.
I am so thankful that I get to run this business. Reaching 6 years is crazy, but this last year has been the craziest. Going full-time has been awesome, but it also came with its own set of challenges. However, each challenge brought joy and learning as well. Like everything, there are ups and downs, but the downs are few and far between and usually come with the sweetest highs.
If you’re a business owner, I am curious to know if these things resonate with you. One thing I didn’t add to that list is the everlasting need for community. Meeting people who are on the same track as me has been incredibly helpful in navigating the highs and lows of owning a business.
So, if you’re an entrepreneur and looking to connect, don’t hesitate to reach out! And if you’re a family or couple ready to book, you can always reach me here.