One week ago I met with a couple via Facetime. It was a perfectly lovely meeting-- the couple are two laid-back people who are creating a meaningful wedding day by putting a lot of thought into things such as their venue, the guests they are inviting, and even by adding meaningful touches to their paper suite. (Refined, personal touches are a PLUS PLUS PLUS in my book!)
This couple was recommended to me by their wedding planner, Leigh, who I had the pleasure of working with in northern Virginia last fall. Once we started chatting via email, they told me that they wanted to get a feel of who I am as a person, and asked if we could "meet" over Facetime. All of that is totally normal. In fact, I really do prefer getting to know a couple before they book either via Facetime, Google Hangouts, or Skype.
Our little hangout was going perfectly fine, and as we segued into closing, this potential client reiterated the fact that she really wanted to get a sense of who I was, because my website didn't offer much in the way of who I am as a person. She also may have used the word "stuffy" to describe the feel of my website.
Boy was that a wake-up call!
Stuffy is the last word I think I'd ever use to describe myself. I also believe the people who know me wouldn't agree with that term to describe me -- I have a SERIOUS (I mean SERIOUS) cackle, I like to give out hugs, I make the worst jokes ever, have a pretty foul mouth (though I do my absolute BEST to temper that as a professional), and I can be found dancing almost any time.
However, to be honest, I could totally understand how she'd feel that way.
When I started my business I really fought against putting much of myself "out there" into the world. There are many reasons for this-- first being privacy. But if I'm being real, it was more than that.
I was also really, really grumpy/resistant about/to the idea of people hiring me based on the food I enjoy, where I shop for clothes, or what I do for fun. WHY COULDN'T THEY JUST HIRE ME BECAUSE THEY LIKE THE WORK THAT I DO? ISN'T THAT ENOUGH?
And it is, to a certain extent...
Now that I am headed into my fourth year as a business owner, I have to say, I get it now. I really get it. I've found through trial and error that there will be people who will hire me based on the fact that they love my work, and that's great. But I've found that in certain respects, that's where it ends for us.
I don't like that.
One thing I've stressed since the beginnings of this business is that I care a hell of a lot about sticking to my guns on certain things, living, creating, and abiding by a set of values that guides every decision I make, and that the people I work with are the most important part of all of this.
I can't even begin to count how many times I've said that for me, this isn't a job I clock in for. This is not to sound snotty, or elitist. I take a limited amount of weddings each year because in the season of my life that I currently am in, I can only give but so much, and I want to be sure that the people I am giving myself to are getting the BEST that I can give.
In committing to these people, most of the time for the good part of a year and longer still, we chat a lot, sometimes meeting for a lunch or drink, and I try my very best to dedicate myself to being there not only as a photographer, but as a confidante, sounding board, etc., etc. for them.
It's a part of the job I didn't anticipate, but it's part of what has made me fall in love even more with what I do.
I suppose you could say that I'm stubborn, or that I leaned into my ego a bit too much.
I know that there are quite a few photographers out there who coach others into putting more of themselves into their businesses.
I didn't listen to that. I had to figure it out for myself exactly why. I had to experience things for myself. It's a trait I've had since I was a little girl, pleading with my parents to allow me to make my own mistakes. (Goodness did I!)
That Facetime meeting was the catalyst for even more changes in the way I do this business. I mentioned last year that I had begun to enact changes, and they're coming-- albeit slowly. One thing that I am immediately investing in is allowing more of me/he/we into what we're ultimately all about, because it would be really wonderful to connect with others who are all about those things too!
I've written before about How I Do, but I wanted to create a series (How We Do) that lets you into our lives a little bit more.
Most people know that I have children. Two boys. At 10 & 12, our days are full of homeschool, piano lessons, XBox, drawing, reading, and watching movies together. I love it.
Though since becoming a business owner, I've noticed that one of the first things that was [unknowingly] sacrificed was time Logan and I reserved for time alone and Date Nights.
Last year that sacrifice became really noticeable, and made us change some things up a bit. Since making my 32 at 32 list, we have made a concerted effort to make more time for us. However, with wedding season, and more portrait work than I had anticipated, not to mention the holidays and, well, life, we hadn't had time alone in quite some time.
On Friday evening we decided to check out 'Under the Gun'-- a mixed media art show hosted at Work Release in Norfolk, which has the goal to inspire others in the Norfolk community on how to "seek new avenues for saving lives against violence". A member of our wedding community-- Marissa DiGirolamo, owner of Studio Posy, had an instillation in the show and I wanted to check it out. It was a gorgeous night with thought-provoking art, great tunes, and an eclectic mix of people. (You should totally check it out!)
Our babysitter (Logan's mother) apparently didn't want Friday evening to end, because she texted us on Saturday morning asking if our youngest son could stay with her until Monday evening. Our guy loves his Mema, and probably needed just as much of a vacation from us as we needed a breather from him. If you ever have trouble letting your kids go away for a few days, flip the perspective! They may need and appreciate a little time away from you as well, ESPECIALLY if there's an over-indulging grandparent waiting in the wings to spoil dinners and ruin bedtimes.
(And in case you're wondering, our oldest is actually from a previous relationship of mine. Every winter he spends time with his father in Indianapolis, where he lives. It's an awesome perk of being a homeschooler!)
Can I share how magical it was to sleep in on Saturday? Because it totally was. I was scheduled to have an engagement session Saturday afternoon, but due to how very cold, windy, and grey it was, decided it was best to reschedule.
Without a plan, Logan and I left the day open. We took our time getting up and out, and headed over to Norfolk again for Toast and record shopping. We came home early with Indian carry-out and spent the rest of the evening in our underwear. (Heaven).
Sunday was for a coffee date in the morning and seeing D.R.A.M at the Norva in the evening. That show was probably the MOST fun I have ever had at a concert. My favorite takeaway was him singing with his mama towards the end of the night.
It wasn't a fancy weekend away. We didn't go out of the country, or even across state lines. Logan and I tucked ourselves away from the world for a bit to recharge and get to know each other a bit again as the people we are right this moment. Ever changing and evolving, I feel it's important to reconnect again and again.
In our years together I've found that it doesn't take much for us to remember each other in times of overwhelm. A conversation without a phone on the table, walking hand in hand together, or even sitting on the same side of the table... everyday moments and small gestures are things that tug my heartstrings, and I see how this translates into my photography as well.
I live for the in-between.