Photographer. Something that took me a while to call myself. Entrepreneur. A title that I never thought I would own. Self-employed. A word that is so hard to define. and yet, here I am… a self-employed photographer entrepreneur. I went full-time as a photographer in 2015 and I can’t BELIEVE I’ll be celebrating 3 years this JUNE!
At my local Tuesdays Together meet-up a few weeks ago, several gals sat around a table and we talked about our businesses. We got off topic and started talking about what we’ve done with our businesses and where our goals are going and it sparked an idea in my head to write a letter. I write letters a LOT, to friends and family, but I had the idea of a different kind… a letter I wish I could have read myself and a letter to you. A letter to those who have an idea, who are scared and excited at the same time, who aren’t sure if they can do “it”… this letter, this is for you.
GET EXCITED! Your heart isn’t just making this stuff up – you’ve got a dream in your heart and in your mind! You might be saying… am I flipping crazy? I didn’t think this was what I was going to do with my life!?!? Trust me… I’ve been there. BUT did you know that not everyone WANTS to be a self-employed entrepreneur? The fact that you’re even considering it is huge. You’re willing to TRY and that’s a feat of its own. Life of being self-employed certainly has its ups and its downs. Everyone thinks all you do is “take portraits” all day but you know it’s more than that. You’ll go through so many emotions and that is 100% N O R M A L.
There are days when everything is going right and you KNOW this is the job for you.
You’ll feel loved when a client says there’s no one else that they can imagine capturing their day.
You’ll cry yourself when I bride emails you and tells you that she cries when she looks at her wedding photos because she’s never felt more beautiful.
You’ll be touched when a mother of the bride mails you a letter and thanks you for capturing her baby girl’s wedding day and that she hopes to see you again soon.
You’ll laugh when a groom says that everyone should hire you because you are really super cool and easy to be around and they wish they could repeat the day over because they had so much fun.
You’ll be surprised when a client flies to meet YOU at YOUR destination because they want you to shoot their elopement and they’ll change your flight so you can stay and capture it.
You’ll feel so happy that you want to scream from the mountain tops because you just booked your first destination wedding.
You’ll feel excited when your wedding gets accepted to a popular wedding blog because you were so proud of your work.
You’ll feel thankful that you ever took this risk and feel brave because you’re actually doing it.
There will also be days when everything feels wrong.
You’ll get through accidentally emailing the wrong bride with the wrong details.
You’ll get through clients begging for discounts or telling you that you should take their wedding because it will be “good exposure” for you.
You’ll go through client questions – out the wazoo – who end up not booking you because they have their “reasons.”
You’ll get through clients straight up ghosting.
You’ll get through people not understanding all the hours that go into doing your job or saying “How is your job even hard? All you do is take pictures, right?”
You’ll go through the first rainy wedding and will pick up tricks for the next time.
You’ll get through figuring out how to collect taxes and make sure your payments get sent on time.
You’ll get through the stress of choosing a healthcare plan.
You’ll get through wondering if you can make enough money to actually survive.
You’ll get through making a website and wondering why the site links are broken and stressing out about whether people are finding you.
You’ll get through those dry spells of not booking weddings and wondering if this is the year that your dream “dies.”
You’ll get through that one bad review. You will.
You’ll go through lots of learning and discovering.
You’ll get through the NO’s because ultimately you’ll learn that those NO’s leave room for the YES’s.
You’ll learn that you should have triple checked that your AA batteries were actually in your bag. (but you’ll feel better when you send your second shooter to get them at the gas station!)
You’ll learn to shoot a wedding in complete darkness when the power goes out.
You’ll learn how to shoot when the rain is coming sideways and the wind is almost knocking you over.
You’ll learn that wearing comfortable shoes over cute ones SAVES your feet from literally dying.
You’ll learn that there are people who surround you that are on your side. That there are people who will celebrate your wins and help you through your losses.
You’ll learn that memory cards don’t last forever (but thankfully you shot on 2 memory cards and your photos are saved!)
You’ll learn that everyone has their 2 cents about everything.
You’ll learn that some people shoot at f/2.2 and some people shoot at f/11. You can shoot at whatever you want.
You’ll learn that you like to edit a certain way and shouldn’t feel like you have to edit any kind of way.
You’ll learn that other peoples dreams don’t have to be the dreams you want. Try not to compare.
You’ll learn to laugh at yourself instead of cry when you make a mistake because you know you can fix it.
You’ll learn that you’re happy running your business and connecting with clients who connect with YOU! There are so many photographers out there… literally thousands. You’ll learn that there’s a client for everyone and you should continue to be yourself because the clients that connect with you are who you want! You’ll learn that being yourself is EXACTLY who you want to be.
I hope you know that everyone – every single one of us – has been in a “new” position. I’m still discovering new things and learning and pushing myself all the time. You’re never DONE. Don’t do this thing called entrepreneurship if you never want to push yourself or improve your business or can’t deal with client rejection or hate people – because these are all things you can’t avoid. Running a business is hard, hard, h a r d work BUT running a business has such a great reward that also comes with it. Working for yourself, setting your own schedule, and laying out your own roadmap is powerful. Your future can go one thousand ways and YOU get to figure out how it goes. You got this!