I firmly believe it’s important each of us to keep learning new things. As a photographer, that means I need to keep honing my skills, and refining my craft. Always working to become better than I was.
When I first entered the world of a photography business, I had no idea what I was doing. I had no business training, and no photographic training. I was far from the Professional Photographer that sits here today writing this blog post. Thankfully, I’ve come a long way since those beginning days . . . and I’ll walk you through it all right here.
The back story –
My journey started out when I was just a kid . . . elementary school age. My uncle had a passion for photography, and at some point he gave me my first hand-me-down camera. It was a Kodak Trimlite Instamatic film camera with Flash Cubes. Those were the days!! If you were lucky enough to get one good picture off a role of film with 24 images, you were doing great! Me . . . well . . . I was busy taking pictures of my Barbie Doll’s weddings and Cabbage Patch Kids family portraits. Yes, I really was! I have the photos that my wonderful mother printed for me to prove it . . . none of which is very good! LOL! This was just a new way for me to play with my toys. Never in a million years would have thought it would lead me to a career that I am so passionate about!
Fast forward a few decades and you’ll find me with 3 little ones of my own. A stay at home mom with 2 boys (5 and 4 yrs. old) and a little girl (10 mo. old) and my very first ‘big girl’ camera! I wanted to make sure I had a good camera for my daughter’s first birthday. My old junky 45mm camera had recently died and I was dying to get into the Digital camera game. I was so excited! I had already started to dream of the possibilities of having my own photography business, but other than a logo my friend created for me that was all I had . . . a dream. Without much research, I ran out to the store and bought a Nikon D70s DSLR, and that’s where my Photography Career began.
It wasn’t until my daughter was just about 2 yrs. old that I finally saw my potential as a photographer. You see, our boys are 10 1/2 months apart in age. Yes, you read that right! We would take them to the department stores for photographs, 3 months, 6 months, 1st birthday, Christmas, Easter . . . every little thing we could think of. And we bought a package of photos every time! The photographers would see us coming and cringe thinking it was going to be the hardest shoot of the day. My boys would pose and smile like they were trained as models in the womb, and every photo was perfect! THEN, that sweet little girl that we prayed so hard for entered our lives . . . and we finally understood what those photographers were so afraid of. This beautiful little girl REFUSED to look at the photographer and REFUSED to smile. She hated every moment of it. We tried EVERYTHING we could think of . . . for 2 years. In that time, the best photos I have of her, she’s not even looking at the camera or is barely smiling. As a mom, it made my heart hurt, as a photographer at heart, it broke me.
Finally, I decided I would try to take some pictures of her myself. I sent the boys off to school one warm spring day; I gave her a bath, so her tiny ringlets were perfectly shaped; I put her in a cute little dress; grabbed my camera and asked her to take a walk with me out in the back yard. I found the perfect spot and had her sit down. I think I managed to get about 3 different poses before she started crying and refused to do any more.
It wasn’t magical – It wasn’t perfect – I certainly didn’t become a Professional Photographer in that moment – but believe me, it was an “Ah-Ha” moment in my life.
About 2 years after that I made the decision to “start my own business”. Mind you, I had NO idea what that meant. All I knew is that I wanted to take pictures and someday, I wanted to be paid for it. I had NO idea how to make it all happen. (This is the exact reason I tell ALL my seniors to take a business class in college!! Someday, it might come in handy!) Thankfully, this wasn’t my first business venture. I had done a few direct selling businesses in the past: Tupperware, Jafra Cosmetics, Creative Memories, etc. None of them were successful and they certainly didn’t last long . . . but I DID learn how to get things started from those businesses. So, I started with my friends and family!
I went about my business like this for several years. Taking pictures of anyone that would let me, for very little money in return. Finally, in 2013, I decided that it was time to dive deeper. I knew that if this was going to be my career, I had to improve. Not just as a business owner, but as a photographer too. You see, I’ve always had a great eye for taking pictures . . . I just know what looks good naturally. Where I was lacking was in complete understanding of my camera and how to use it to it’s full capability. Not to mention the actual business aspect of running a business.
It was time to take some classes!
It’s been eight years since that first class! That’s so hard for me to believe, but it’s true. Fifteen years since I took that very first portrait of my daughter at almost 2 years of age. Since that time, I have grown so much! I’m on my third Nikon DSLR Camera, I have 6 different lenses that I can think of off the top of my head, 3 different types of off camera flashes, and tons of experience. I’ve gone from photographing anyone that would let me, to turning away clients that don’t fit into the type of photography that I want to do. On top of all that, my photos so much better than when I first started, AND I am running a successful business where I’m actually making a profit doing what I love to do!
How did I make it happen? Like this . . .
I invested in myself and my business.
I took three different classes that taught me all I needed to know about my camera and how to edit the photos I was taking. I felt it was important for me to start with these classes, simply because I needed to get better with my camera if I was going to be able to “stay in business”. The classes I took from another photographer, are all classes that I now teach as part of my business. In time, I have no doubt that there will be more classes added the list.
The Basic Photography Class teaches you all about your camera. How it works and how to make it work the way you want it to. The Intermediate Class is all about refining those skills you learned in the Basic Class. It also gives you a chance to actually take photos with me right there by your side. The Advanced Class is all about editing! You’ll learn how to use Adobe programs like Lightroom and Photoshop.
Beyond those I have taken business classes that taught me how to figure out what prices I should be charging in order to make the money I need for my family. I learned where to buy my prints & products from so that I could offer my clients a more premium experience, and I learned how to sell them to my clients. I learned how to create a successful modeling program for my High School Seniors. I learned how to market my business in today’s world of social media advertising. There are so many classes available, if you are willing to invest in your business. For me that first step was the hardest . . . but those classes soon paid for themselves and have continued to many times over!
If you have a passion for photography and are serious about diving into business for yourself, you must be willing to invest in your business. Invest in yourself. If you’re ready to take that leap . . . feel free to contact me. I’ll be happy to hold your hand through the process!