Early on in my venture to build a photography business, I was told by someone I considered to be a "successful" photographer that I should specialize. I remember being asked if I wanted to be a wedding photographer, or if I wanted to photograph families. For some reason, this person thought that you had to choose which you wanted to focus on to get the greater amount of business, and to excel in your craft. To be fair, this person wasn't alone in their thinking.
I had heard this before, and I rebelled against it. First of all, I just didn't get it. Why did I have to choose? How did photographing both weddings and families make me 'less than' in any way? Couldn't I benefit in each genre from what I gained in the other?
Still, I took the advice of this photographer. Kinda.
I put it out into the world that I was no longer going to do family and lifestyle sessions in order to focus on my wedding photography/clients. However, my family work never dried up. Instead, I had people emailing me apologetically, asking for me to do their family work. These were people I had worked with in the past, and others were referrals from these friends, so I didn't feel good turning them away.
Each time I got an email or phone call where someone started with, "I'm sorry, I know you don't do family sessions any longer, but..." I cringed, and had to work that much harder to convince people that I was, in fact, happy to serve them, that they weren't a burden to me.
The truth is, I was happy to serve them. I connected with a ton of people from all walks of life. I enjoyed getting to know who they were at those points in their lives. I had fun with them, and it made me happy to preserve those memories for them. Family photography is important.
I totally burnt out, though, due to a lack of business sense, and feeling that my work didn't reflect what I wanted to put into the world.
I thought I had burned out because I was doing family sessions, which weren't my "passion", my specialty. I now know this is nonsense.
I also have learned over the course of the last three or so years, as I have gained experience and education, that I shouldn't do exactly what someone else says to do, even if they are more experienced, and seemingly more "successful" than me. This may be a no-brainer to some, but, for me, I didn't have the confidence in myself, and what I wanted for my brand, to take a step back and say, That may work for her, but for my business, I play by my own rules.
On Monday, I am launching the Lifestyle component to my website!
I started earlier this year, but wasn't quite ready until now to go live with it. Something was holding me back.
As July was slower for me this year, I dove into learning more about business through workshops, lectures, and online courses. I pinned down a Mission Statement, a Brand Statement, and learned more about who I am as a business owner, photographer, and artist. In that time, I was reminded that one of my biggest strengths, and again, what I thrive on, is building relationships with my clients.
I'm happy to photograph your wedding day.
I'm happy to photograph your family.
I'm even happier to become a friend to you.
In the past I have celebrated milestones big and small with these amazing people-- my clients, now friends. (How I looooaaathe the word 'clients').
I've altered a rehearsal dress for one, and I've cried alongside and mourned with others. I've encouraged them when things were hard, and cheered them on when they met their goals. I've prayed for them, shared meals with them, and, just last week, went outside to check and make sure there wasn't a burglar hanging in the bushes--something I don't even do in my own house--for one of them. (Full disclosure: this past 'client' is now a dear friend of mine. She didn't just call me up and ask me to do this for her, we were already hanging out together :)
I don't say these things to brag. I say these things because it's how I want to run my business. My business has my heart and soul poured into it, and when I started, I vowed to myself that I wouldn't be untrue to who I am.
I'm just not into the superficial.
I want our roots to run deep.
If that's just not what you're into, that's cool. Like I said, I'd be happy to be your photographer. But what I am most looking for, is being your friend, going deep, and giving you images that are as authentic as they possibly can be. Without the props. Without the fluff.
All that being said, I am not the photographer for you if you want a session on the beach wearing matching outfits.
With me, you will get beautiful, "camera aware" (photos of you looking directly at the camera) images, but they'll come from a session we plan and prepare for.
I want you to invite me into your home for an afternoon hang out, or for an activity that is special to you and your family, like walking around your neighborhood, grabbing a taco at your favorite food truck, or playing in your favorite park. Those sessions are the ones I started, and got away from. Those are the sessions I am booking again (so excited to photograph one family decorating their Christmas tree this year!) and ones I want to continue to book.
Sometimes taking a few steps back helps you to see the bigger picture.
So come back Monday for the launch, updated portfolio, and to see what's next.
Or, if you're ready to book*, simply contact me!
*2016 availability is extremely limited! I am now booking into spring 2017!