My photography journey started as a hobby and creative outlet that quickly turned into a full-blown obsession. I spent all of my free time behind the lens shooting anyone and anything I could get my hands on. Over the years I've been able to turn my passion into a business capturing all of the big and small moments in people's lives.
Here are the top 10 things I've learned as a photographer and my biggest advice for anyone just starting out.
1. Finding your style takes time.
It takes time to curate your own unique style. Trust the process! Experiment with a new editing technique, try new things and find what works for you. Avoid looking to others for external validation and don't try to replicate what someone else is doing. Your uniqueness is what sets you apart!
2. Don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone.
Plan that styled shoot! Put your couples in that weird pose you've been dying to try and just have fun with it. Sometimes things don't turn out exactly as you had imagined, but half of the fun and creativity comes from just going for it. And don't be afraid to ask clients to do something again if you didn't quite get it the first time! Instead of showing up and running your clients through basic poses and prompts, collaborate with them to create a unique experience. The energy and excitement that comes from working together to create something new is unmatched.
3. Comparison is a waste of time.
Comparison is a thief to your own natural talent and creative eye. The beauty of art is that it's all subjective! If you like your work and are passionate about what you do, people will pick up on that. Eventually, you will find your niche of clients who are as in love with your work as you are. And that is ALL that matters!
4. Appreciate the beauty all around you.
I used to think traveling for work would define my success. How many places I could showcase that I've been to? But after a while, it gets exhausting and it's not as glamorous as it looks. With travel comes a lot of unforeseen hiccups and setbacks. While those risks may be worth taking, sometimes your best work is created right there in your own city, at the same park you shoot at month after month. It has so much more to do with the attitude and intention you bring into the shoot than traveling across the world to get a photo on the edge of a cliff.
5. Build a network of other wedding industry professionals.
Building a network as a photographer is so important. Make sure to communicate with other vendors on wedding days, exchange cards/social media handles, and work together as a team! You never know what connections they may have or who they could refer you to in the future. Building a community of other industry professionals will help your business flourish.
In that same breath, however, don't forget to make time for your personal relationships. Your business should not define your entire life! Photography can take a lot out of you and it's important to compartmentalize and prioritize time with outside friends and family.
6. Outsource tasks you can no longer handle.
One of the biggest lessons I've learned this past year is that sometimes you have too much on your plate. If you're stretched too thin, you're not going to be able to give 100% to your clients which will directly impact your business. Instead, consider outsourcing tasks you can no longer handle. This has been an absolute game-changer for me! Whatever area of your business is struggling there is someone to help whether that be a virtual assistant, copywriter, social media manager, editor, etc. Not only will this alleviate pressure off of your busy schedule but it will improve your business in the long run by creating sustainability.
7. Schedule time off and prioritize your personal life.
In the past, an open day in my calendar meant another session I could book. As you can imagine, this attitude was a fast track to burnout. After learning the hard way about the importance of work-life balance, I now strategically plan the number of sessions and weddings that I book each month. This has resulted in a beautiful balance between work and play by intentionally scheduling essential time off. It has made me a better business owner, photographer, friend, partner, and all-around happier and more fulfilled person.
8. You can never be too prepared.
If you are feeling stressed or underprepared, you're not going to be providing your clients with your best work. Here are a few things I do before any session or wedding to avoid this feeling and set myself up for success:
Charge my camera batteries and have clear SD cards ready to go.
Pack my camera bag ahead of time with all equipment, backups & accessories.
Chat with my clients to get a clear understanding of their vision, what they're comfortable with, and gather any inspo/ideas they have for the shoot.
Chatting through the session with the client will help you get to know them on a deeper level and tailor their experience to their unique vibe. I want to know beforehand if my couples are willing to jump in the water at the end of the shoot, pop a bottle of champagne, what their style is and if their pet will be joining us, etc.
9. Your clients become some of your closest friends.
One of the best parts of this industry is the lifelong friendships that come with it. Expanding my niche to more than just weddings has allowed me to create meaningful relationships with my clients and build trust to capture all of life's milestones. From engagements to weddings to buying their first home and everything in between, it's so rewarding to watch each client grow and achieve their goals as individuals and families.
10. Enjoy the process!
This career is incredibly fulfilling. As a photographer, we get to document people at their happiest times, surrounded by their closest loved ones and that is pretty special. Every wedding, session, and client interaction you learn something new. It's a revolving door of growth that you get to witness first-hand. Never take that for granted! There's always more to see, more people to meet and more beautiful moments to capture.
Check out more of my story and photography background here!