Monday, December 2, 2013

Photography: A business filled with questions I'm not sure I can answer...

This month I have received a number of emails and messages containing business questions.  "How do I?" or "What did you do when...", "Your business does what?"

I'm honored and overwhelmed, but I honestly can't answer them all and still keep my sanity, so I really hope this doesn't sound harsh.  But, you really do just have to figure it out.  When I first started I asked 2 people a few questions. One person was a very good friend from my college soccer team who did portrait work in Indiana and one dear friend who lives in Lynchburg.  Both took the time to work with me a little . My college friend was awesome and the other photographer I met through a mutual friend and we have since become lifelong friends. (Yes, I said lifelong girl, you aren't getting rid of me). I appreciate their time and I try to give back when I can.

Despite their amazing input (and I only asked them once!) I still had to figure it out for myself.  Lynchburg and Indiana are a far cry from Upstate NY. So here it is, I love your questions and ideas but everything boils down to a few basics.

1.  I live in an area where the demographics are impossibly tough. What works for me isn't going to work for someone living in a major city. I live in the mountains, my clients come from Manhattan, small country towns and the Upstate NY capital region...three completely different demographics. You have to figure this out for you.

2. Business is not glamourous. I read business books. I have exchanged my Nicholas Sparks for a few marketing and small business reads. No romance there baby!

3. Webinars. I take courses, I read, I follow blogs, more blogs and more blogs and then I stopped following so many and picked 5 that I really gleaned from.

4. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Pheed, email - it's a social media storm out there. It's easy to get lost in the #'s and the @'s and you may retweet when you want to delete, but most clients want to see you on some platform or another.  My seniors and brides don't follow me in the same places.

5. Specialize. Be you. Stop following a million other photographers. Do what you do best. If you don't know yet, keep searching and then specialize.

6. I don't follow other photographers. I really don't. I follow a few close friends I love and I show my support for others by "liking" pages, but I don't follow. Why? Because I don't really need to.  Without sounding harsh, I don't care.  I have to focus on what I am doing. If I am focused on what everyone else is doing, I start comparing and thinking and insecurities rise up and that is not good for me or for my clients.

7. I will always look to be better. I have more to learn and that will never stop. Do the same.

8. Be kind. There are other people you should network with and then there are others you shouldn't, know the difference and surround yourself with people who are excited to see you succeed...and be excited for their success as well.

9. Family first. Clients second. Set limits. ( still working on this one)

10. People are overwhelmed with the amount of photography businesses popping up all over the place. I actually know people who have left the industry for something more elite because  everyone is jumping in.  So, be fair to your clients and to others in the industry. Be insured, be good at what you do, know your LIGHTING, be experienced, be honest.

11. Our Pastor at church has been talking a lot about passion and so much of what he says can be translated into every aspect of our life. Be passionate, be passionate about your faith, your family and if this business is what you want...do it with passion.

I'm sure there a million other points, but this is my general overview.  It's just something we all have to work through and figure it out.  :) Good luck and thanks for some great questions.


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