It was March 2015.
I put about 75% of my current business income to attend a workshop in San Diego.
I was at a crossroad. I was either going to go full time or completely quit all together.
I remember not wanting to go in with any expectation. I wanted to be open minded & really take in all that was there for me to learn.
Okay, deep down I hoped that I would be pulled aside and told that I needed to drop everything I was doing & go full time. That I had a great eye, and talent and should absolutely be a full time photographer for the rest of my life!
I didn’t have a lightbulb moment, or some breakthrough. I just remember waking early one morning the living room was dark & I began to write. I wrote down what I wanted. I wrote down what my heart was telling me. The things I had let remain quiet for so long. I let fear, feeling inadequate, inexperience tell me how I should feel & kept me stuck for so long. As I watched the sun rise I had the answer I came seeking, and it was with me all along.
I came back with a stronger passion to create & to take my work and business seriously. I was tired of saying “one day I would love to” I wasn’t going to wait for someone to tell me I was good enough, I was just going to start and go from there.
I began shooting just to shoot. Asking a stranger to take their photo just because I wanted to. Listening more to myself & exploring what I wanted do. I started posting work I was proud of, and I didn’t care as much if I was the only one who liked it.
I got the nudge to jump into my biz full time when my nanny gave her 2 weeks notice. I could either find someone else and keep putting it off, or just go for it.
July 1 2015. This is it. Its official. No more stable paycheck. No safety net, no career to fall back on….. Its me & thats all I’ve got.
I started taking photographers out to coffee and second shooting a ton. I didn’t have a reserve of shoots booked so I made sure to take on as much as I could when it came. I worked on my website and tried to fine tune my message. Making it clear to potential clients what I was about & giving them something to connect to. Little by little work started coming in. I was doing it, I was really doing it!
I want to share some images with you from that first year. For one, becuase this is a photography blog so I should keep some images in here but also because going back is good. Don’t be afraid to revisit old work. Critique yourself but also give yourself some encouragement and relive why you loved a shot to begin with.
also a few things that I have learned & keeps me going:
KNOW YOUR WHY //
I found my why. I found it when I got real with myself & why I had been unhappy and unfulfilled in previous jobs. I found what made me fall in love with the tool in my hand & everything that photography gave me. There will be days when inquiries are not coming in, when equipment needs updating & tax payments are due in the same week. When friends are enjoying a weekend on the lake but you have to say no because you are working & when a 9-5 seems way more easier. Know your why & remind yourself often. Remember why you can’t imagine doing anything else.
KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS //
Being your own boss, setting your own hours, not having someone tell you what to do may sound like a dream. The reality is we all have our strengths and weaknesses. You need to know yours & fine tune where you struggle. You won’t have someone telling you your goals for the month, what to work on today, affirm you when you did a good job, no co-workers to bounce ideas off of or even take a much needed lunch break together to talk shop on the daily. You don’t clock in and clock out.
You can have a killer eye with great images but if you don’t know how to followup to emails, keep an inbox organized, send contracts, invoicing, payment processing, taxes, client/calendar management, workflow, etc. how will you actually book work to get paid? Not to mention knowing your cost of doing business & being profitable! I use a client management system that helps me stay organized and everything in one place. I am pretty good at multi-tasking but I know that I also have kids & managing just my family calendar is a lot to handle, add in a studio plus my business I have to have tools that help me where I could easily miss something important.
BE CONSISTENT //
in giving yourself grace. Be consistent in being patient with yourself. Set realistic goals. Goals you know you can achieve and not sacrifice the quality experience you give to each and every client. Give yourself time to celebrate the accomplishments. You are building a business & its not easy. Good things take time. Everyday you stay the course & are consistent with yourself you are gaining ground. Small steps + small victories will bring you more business & more success as they build year after year.
KNOW YOUR DEFINITION OF SUCCESS //
this will be different for everyone or at least it should be. if you are not careful you will take yourself down a very dark hole if you look to much at what others are doing and start making your definition based off what you see. getting worked published, winning an award, speaking at a conference, making 100k+ year, being named top ___of ______, these can be goals or items to strive after but they should not define you or bring you to a place where you say “I am now a success”
For me, I gauge my path & hard work when I get a referral from a past client or photographer, an email from a mother of the bride thanking me for capturing her daughter so perfectly, a heartfelt review telling me that I made their day so much fun, and they couldn’t be more thrilled with their images & hiring me was the best decision they made. when I am proud of the work I am producing & find inspiration for my next shoot from the last.
These will be the little things that you can celebrate & can look back on when you need a reminder to keep going.
I actually wrote about this yesterday in my IG post. How the hustle is good but rest is necessary. Have a set work schedule. Even if you edit best at night when its quiet in your house you have to have a clocking out time for yourself. You can’t work 13 hour days just to “get it done”. I have been there, and have been under the pressure of deadlines. Sometimes you just buckle down and push through but it cannot be the norm. Why not also set yourself up to be successful before you even book. If you can deliver a gallery in 6 weeks, give yourself 8 in your contract. Leave room to breathe but also maybe surprise your clients with early delivery. Or when life happens you have time to still do what you said you would do. Also, days off are so important. Get out of the house & really take a break. Decide what your schedule is, put it in your email signature, your website, your wall and stick to it. Sometimes we fool ourselves by being “busy”, and with so much on our plate. Again, busy doesn’t always equal success.
I am taking all of December off. I have told myself and others so that I hold myself accountable. I know it will be hard when an email comes in about a date in December so I am now writing it out to read again….I am taking December off. I need it, my family needs it. I know that I already have work booked in November and January so if I don’t take it off then the year will roll right into the next with no break at all.
I believe that at the same time you are setting your goals for the year, also block out days where you are “booked”. Its so needed.
ok, I feel like I have been talking way to much. I want to hear your full time journey, your why & how you keep yourself going when it gets hard.
Comment, send me an email. I love hearing from you.