Yesterday was my last day working for someone else. After photographing weddings for nearly seven years, I’ve learned a few things about photography, business and myself.
1. You have to stop saying things like “someday I’ll do this full-time” or “hopefully I’ll do this one day.” Everything changed for me when I finally said, “I am going to do this by this date.” Now, I did set a date and it was just not realistic, so I reevaluated and set a new one…but I continued to work very hard to make it a reality. Yesterday, it became a reality.
2. You have to pay yourself! When I finally sat down and looked at my costs, taxes and especially my time, I realized I have been grossly underpaid. A huge thank you to the sources listed below. If I hadn’t bought the virtual photography pricing guide, and use the advice given, I would probably be in the same boat I was!
3. There will always be someone who is better than me. Whether more knowledgeable, more successful or just all around “has cooler pictures.” I have had to remind myself that I have had clients who are extremely happy with me and my images. I have learned I need to focus on me and how I want to portray my business and no one else’s.
4. I work for the bride and groom. If they have a special shot they want, I need to fight for it. One example of this was a bride of mine, Lauren, had been talking about taking pictures by this gazebo for months. We were a little behind schedule and when we tried to sneak away a coordinator basically said, gazebo or greet tables. Chivalrous Stephen (her husband) said, no, we’re going to get these pictures and then we’ll greet tables. So, to help make up for lost time, they ran (as you can see, literally) to the gazebo.
5. Don’t waste your money on things you don’t need. Really think about every purchase. I dumped SO much money into a photo sharing site back in the day. I really wish I had known about SmugMug sooner!
6. Let someone else print the pictures…or….don’t be so controlling! It took me about 4 years before I chose SmugMug and let them deal with printing my pictures for clients. I love that the friends and family members can just go on the website and order! It also took me about 5 years before I let someone else edit pictures for me. Bret has taken on some of the editing and I can’t believe I didn’t do that sooner! I’m not sure if I’m ready to outsource my editing, but I’m certainly more open to it than I’ve ever been.
7. Be able to say no. You don’t have to take every client. You don’t have to take a job making less than you deserve. You don’t have to “specialize” in weddings, family portraits, maternity, seniors, corporate, modeling, pets, sports, bands/music or nature. Pick one or two (maybe three) you LOVE and run with those. Not everyone will understand why you’re turning down work, but it’s a really freeing feeling. It is YOUR business after all!
8. The clients won’t always like what you like. Sometimes you’ll take what you think is an absolutely stunning image and they just pass it by…and they will absolutely LOVE something you think is just “ok.”
9. I’d rather take more than enough images than not enough. For example, you may take a picture of a random guest, and it turns out to be the last really nice picture of them. Or you may not know the meaning behind a picture you think is just “pretty.” I once captured an image of a bride and groom with a double rainbow behind them. It is one of my all time favorite pictures. But what I didn’t know until after I took the picture was that the double rainbow had HUGE sentimental meaning for the bride. So much so that after she told me the full story, we were both in tears.
10. Enjoy every moment. Sometimes I need to remind myself why I’m doing this…and that is to capture God’s glory in even just one person. This will be especially important for me now, when I start to freak out about getting work. This is my dream job. This is what I GET to do with the rest of my life (hopefully).