I thought it would be fun at the end of each month to try and do a quick blog post reflecting on my favorite photos, lessons and experiences in my photography business. In the last two months I saw pretty awesome growth personally and professionally - a lot of this growth happened behind the scenes so let's pull back the curtain and take a look!
Lessons I Learned
Book, baby, Book.
For some reason I always book at least a week out. Even if I have availability at that moment! My new approach moving forward is to stop dilly-dallying if it isn't necessary. If I have availability this week, I should try to book them this week. Why not? What am I waiting for? I know the longer I book out the more time I have to overthink a shoot. Unless, of course, I'm all booked up. Booking sooner keeps me from getting in my head and keeps my business moving forward. Chop chop!
Your market is not oversaturated.
Okay this is a bigger picture lesson I'm in the midst of learning and working through, so bear with me. Since I first got my feet wet in photography I was thrown comments like, "Yeah, photography is great but it's such an oversaturated market and it's really not something to pursue as a full-time career". This belief along with traditional trope of the "starving artist" and all kinds of self doubt and comparison held me back from really believing in myself for over ten years. This month I started a spiritual course with someone who has been my mentor-from-a-distance the last three years named Kathrin Zenkina. You may recognize her brand as Manifestation Babe. In the first two weeks of this program we've been facing a lot of our limiting belief and it really coincided perfectly with the relamation of my photography business. Since I've come back into photography, I've been hearing those common beliefs again: "Our market is so oversaturated", "Business is so inconsistent in this field", etc.
What I've come to realize is that no matter which market or industry you have an interest in, there will always be the "oversaturation" myth. There will always be people telling you it isn't safe (even if it's just yourself). We tend to forget our power: the power of being uniquely us. The right clients will come to us if we step into that power and trust in our talent.
If we choose to believe our market (whatever it is: photography, digital marketing, being a realtor, makeup artist, multi-level-marketing, attorney's, financial advisors, nurses, teachers, anything) is oversaturated, we will always be struggle. But if we choose to believe in abundance and that there is more than enough for everybody than we take the cap off of our potential growth.
I've found the more I believed in myself and trusted my talents the last month, the more unexpected bookings and positive connections I made. We aren't oversaturated, we're brainwashed into believing we aren't good enough.
No two shoots are the same.
I'm still working on this one, too. I used to have a shoot that just fell short of my own expectations + tear myself apart. The reality is, you will have shoots that don't go as planned when you have high expectations for yourself and you will have a fantastic shoot when you're doubting yourself most. No two shoots are the same and having a shoot that underwhelms you doesn't make you a bad photographer. When I look back on photoshoots I wasn't especially thrilled about, I still remember getting wonderful reviews and positive feedback from the clients I worked with on that session. We're always more critical of ourselves than others are. You're doing great! Just keep moving forward.
Finally an awesome realization and lesson I learned this last month was how physically moving throughout your session will dramatically enhance the final digital album. I'm talking variety, friends! I've noticed that my sessions in the last month had 3x more useable and visually satisfying images than any of my pervious sessions. Why? I kept moving. I moved my clients around, moved their poses, literally had them walking around and moving-- and I kept moving! In the past I'd kick myself for doing 1/2 the shoot with one backdrop and 1/2 the shoot with a different one. It was boring to edit pictures that were all basically the same and it felt underwhelming to deliver albums that way. Now my albums have tons of variety in posing, background, angles, outfits, facial expressions and more because I was really paying attention to how long I was spending shooting from the same spot.
A lot of my favorite photos from this month were from Sara and Jack's morning shoot. The lighting was so beautiful the entire time and the cold air helped catch their breath and made it easier for them to want to stay snuggled close together. Something I'm trying to incorporate more into each of my sessions are closer, more intimate detail shots and I had a lot of opportunities to catch that with Sara and Jack. They were patient, followed direction incredibly well and were just so natural to work with.
Another one of my favorite shots from this month was from my session with a family of six. I have the sense they want to remain unnamed and want to respect that so we'll just call them The Jones family. Let me tell you, these siblings were a lot sweeter and patient in a photoshoot environment than my siblings and I ever were! They were also really great at following direction and making the most of our time together. This black and white photo of the brothers hugging in close was my favorite candid / accidental shot. I said on my instagram it reminded me of Avicii's song, "Hey, Brother" (which then sent me on a week-long binge of this song, hitting repeat over and over!). It made me want to hug my siblings tight, too, even though we're now each in a different state.
If you're curious about the song I'm mentioning, here's the music video. But please grab tissues because it'll get ya. Seriously. You've been warned.
Not to mention the fun I had on this shoot playing with HDR settings to really capitalize on the cloudy weather we were faced with. I had kind of forgotten about this fun technique until a photographer friend of mine and I were chatting before one of my sessions and he asked if I used HRD often. LIGHTBULB. The answer was no. But on this cloudy day it was the best solution to really make the subjects pop.
One more shot I'm really proud of is this one of KaDeidra and Jamie. I've been really trying to nail movement shots, which can be tricky because the lens I love to use is only manual focus (it doesn't automatically focus on the subject, which is fine if you're posed in one place. But once you start moving around it's really hit-or-miss). I also haven't been able to nail down the right directing to make this shot look natural. I tried this "leading" shot a few times in the last month, but only really liked the result I got when I did it with KaDeidra and Jamie. I'm definitely going to keep trying at this prompt and have hope it'll get easier. Especially because I just bought an identical lens to my favorite one but that has autofocus functionality.
Reflecting on what I'm Proud of
I'm proud of myself for showing up and for forming really great connections with people in the community. The action steps I took (even if they felt small) made me feel so good mentally. I'm proud of myself for advocating for myself and speaking with confidence in what I do. I'm proud of myself for being transparent during photoshoots if the lighting wasn't working, educating my clients on my methods and for not being too hard on myself when a shot didn't turn out the way I hoped. I'm proud of myself for providing a really positive, welcoming experience for my clients and making them comfortable. I'm really proud of myself for stepping up to the plate and getting creative with posing and direction. Especially when it came to male posing. In the past I used to feel really stuck trying to direct people and this past month I felt it came more naturally - this is, in part, due to researching and learning through other photographers on YouTube and on Social Media.
I'm really proud that I've set my pride aside and been more open to making friendships within the photography community here in Flagstaff and the surrounding areas. I used to be such a know-it-all with photography, but I recognize now that there are many places I want to improve and grow and I can't do that without the support of other wildly creative people in this industry. More than that, I'm proud I'm not letting myself get sucked into the abyss of comparing myself to those other wildly creative people in our industry. I want to learn from others, support them and celebrate our shared passion for this awesome medium. Photography can be a very "solo" experience as a sole creator of your content. So having other people to connect with and expand with makes the entire experience much more rewarding.
Goals for March
My main goal for March is to book more sessions at full price. As a mentioned in my "A New Approach" post, I was running a "Sixty Dollar Session" promotion to help lay a foundation and name for myself in the community. Now that I've pumped out some awesome, high quality content I'm really going to be driving word of mouth through clients and myself to start booking at my regular price. My goal is to book 15 full-price sessions in March, which I feel confident I can do! I'm looking forward to continuing to connect with people in the community and make each session a really fun experience for my clients. I also want to keep in touch with my clients from the last couple of months and will be brainstorming easy, engaging ways to do so.