You know what they say, hindsight is 20/20. I started my photography business 5 years ago, and have learned quite a few things along the way. I thought this may be a helpful tool to those of you who might just be starting out, or any small business owner who’s experienced growing pains. When I started brainstorming for this post, I realized it was going to be tough to keep it short, so I decided to split it up into 2 separate posts to give your reading eyes a break 😉 Here goes nothing!
1. You aren’t going to be the right photographer for everyone, and that’s OKAY!
When I first started out, I took on any and every inquiry because I wanted to gain experience and didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity for business. I mean, why would I turn a client away who was seeking my services?! Business headshots, senior photos, family events – you name it, I was your girl. This led to me follow through with sessions that didn’t allow me to spread my creative wings, and feel fulfilled in my work.
Over the years, I’ve learned the importance of really honing in on my photography style and figuring out the kind of photographer that I want to be. Families and Couples light my soul on fire, and I’ve spent my time and money gaining experience and knowledge in those specific areas so I can serve my clients best. Am I going to book a traditional newborn session with props, artificial lighting, and posing? Nope. Am I going to photograph your family event? Nope. Will I take your senior photos? Nope. It’s okay to say no! I want to serve my clients in the best possible way that I can, and if I’m stretched too thin with sessions that don’t fuel my passion, then I’m doing you a disservice. Don’t worry, though – if you come to me with a request that I don’t feel is the best fit for me, I always try to refer another photographer who can meet your needs and serve you best!
2. Communicate and educate your clients
This one kind of goes hand in hand with the last one. It’s so important for prospective clients to get a good idea of who you are, your style, and your work before booking with you. They should be able to navigate through your website and social media pages, and walk away knowing whether or not you’re the photographer for them.
It’s also super important to educate your clients on allll the things! Starting out, I didn’t realize just how important this was. Now, if you book with me, I’m going to educate you on everything – after all, I am the expert, right? I’ll share with you why I only shoot during the golden hour, what to wear and what you can expect during a session – all of this will help the process go much more smoothly and make for a much happier (and prepared) client.
3. Comparison is the thief of joy
Why aren’t my photos as good as theirs? How are they so much more successful than me? How do they have so many followers? They’re booking more clients than I am. I’ve believed all of these and so many more lies over the years. Especially when first starting out, it’s easy to look around at other business owners and compare your success and journey to theirs.
God’s been teaching me a lot lately about being content in who he made you to be, and walking confidently in the unique characteristics that make me, ME. Your journey will never be the same as someone else’s. Life gives everyone different opportunities, connections, and experiences. If you spend all of your time focusing on everyone else and their success, it takes away from focusing on you and your business. I saw a quote the other day, “It’s difficult to be distracted by comparison when you are consumed with purpose.” I couldn’t have said it better. So go out and focus on YOU, and you won’t have time to play the comparison game.
4. You are going to make mistakes
Louder for the people in the back: “You are going to make mistakes!” I can’t stress this one enough. Unfocused images, double booking, not backing up photos…I’ve done them all (and more). Don’t worry, I’ve spent a few years working out the kinks so you’re in good hands 😉
But those mistakes taught me valuable lessons that I wouldn’t necessarily have learned otherwise. I now back up all of my photos in multiple locations. I’ve learned the ins and outs of my camera, and know what type of light is best to shoot in to produce the best images. I invested in a client management software that keeps everything organized so I have a good handle on all of my upcoming projects. I’m convinced that making mistakes and learning from them is one of the best ways to grow. Don’t let the fear of making a mistake hold you back from trying because, chances are, even if you do make a mistake (which you probably will!) you’ll learn something valuable from it and come out even stronger than before.
5. Light is king
I can’t say it enough…lighting is KEY to a good photo. You can’t out-edit a badly lit photo, and even the most stunning locations will fall short if the lighting is poor.
When I first started out, I shot at all times of the day. Whatever worked best for the client is when we would schedule the session. This usually ended up being in the morning or middle of the day (due to nap times and early bed times) when the sun was most harsh. This resulted in inconsistent images, unflattering shadows, and less than ideal lighting. Once I realized how important it was to understand lighting and how it affects your images, I started educating my clients and scheduling sessions around sunrise or sunset. I also learned where to place my subjects for the most flattering light, shooting around the sun, and how to navigate a cloudy day (yep, you still need to pay attention to the light there, too!).
Okay, I think that’s enough for one day.
I know, I know – you want to know all 10 things I learned now 😉 I’ll share those soon, I promise! In the meantime, I hope some of these resonated with you. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Have you learned anything similar? What are some things you wish you had known when starting your business?