Last year about this time, I took a break.
It was primarily a break from blogging, keeping up with the social photography communities I was a part of, and dedicating time and effort to IRL community.
About three months ago, my site went completely dark because the theme I was using decided to crash, I was in the thick of rebranding and product launches at my company, and wedding season required my full attention. There was some small part of me that was relieved not to have to worry about my online presence for awhile. I had to give myself the freedom to believe that my “platform” would still be there when I returned.
So what has happened in the last year?
Ross & Laurie’s wedding in October of 2012 was a huge turning point for me photographically and as a business woman. In 2012 I had four weddings on my own, and the remainder of the twenty-six weddings I shot was as a second for my dear friend Marirosa (Aka: Sassafrass, Sass, or Juju depending on the day).
Last year I was on a tear to establish myself as a primary wedding photographer. My skills were improving, my business acumen was expanding thanks to the tutelage of Marirosa, and I was feeling more confident.
But somewhere between Laurie putting her dress on and her walking down the aisle, I realized that one of my favorite parts of their wedding was being able to have enough time over the previous six months to watch a couple’s love story develop and choosing to invest in that couple as individuals (not as clients). I loved the pace of only having a few weddings a year. I also realized I missed my Sass and I felt that somehow my photographic wedding experience was more complete when she was there too.
By the end of their wedding I had made the following decisions about weddings
1 – I’m a born second shooter and this is where I want to expend my energy for weddings: I love to second shoot because I love helping people succeed (my dear friend Kelly Sauer wrote this post and helped me discover this) Whether in business or personal life, I’ve always been that person that loves to come alongside of others and give them a boost, encourage them, and see them blossom.
2 – I will not spend money on marketing and advertising: I can do the business side of weddings, but it is not my forte, and it takes me away from what I love to do — shoot weddings! If I don’t advertise, then it is a cost I don’t pass on to my brides, so I can keep my costs down as well as guard my time. Advertising can be a huge time burden!
3 – Referrals only: All of my brides have come from people I know, or I know them directly. As a result I have loved every single one of them. I have decided that I will only serve referred brides and grooms or people I know directly, or people who know brides and grooms that I have worked with.
4 – A max of 3-5 weddings per year: I need to shoot primary on at least this many weddings so that I keep my shooting with brides fresh, my ability to plan and execute wedding photography in top shape, and my ability to step in as primary on one of Sass’ weddings if God forbid something happens to her.
I’ve learned through this experience of stepping back that I can never let anyone else define occupational success for me.
After making those decisions, 2013 has been such a year of photographic joy for me! Finding my own groove in this business, my own style, and my own strengths is so important to success and I believe that I am finding my own definitions of success as I walk this journey.
Lots of other “stuff” has happened this year… so keep reading this week for some more updates!