A collaborative blog taking a reflective look back at our beginnings
Hindsight is 20/20. We’ve all heard the saying before. If we could go back in time, knowing what we know now, what would we change? I know for me personally, I would have changed the way I pose and direct families much earlier on. In the beginning of my career, I thought everyone had to look at the camera and smile. It was draining and boring culling and editing a million photographs with everyone looking at the camera. There was no strong emotion or feeling. It wasn't until I found a mentor who asked me 'how do you want your work to feel' that I realized I could do things differently.
I also realized early on that local networking and partnerships are key! While I still consider myself a newer photography business, I did find success in referrals from local businesses that I worked with. This small step helped promote my business to a level that I never thought possible. If I could tell photographers that are just starting out one thing, it would be to find a local business who also serves your ideal client and partner with them. These relationships will help you build trust within your community.
I reached out to several other photographers and asked what they would go back and tell themselves if they were just starting out again. These answers are heartfelt, honest, and perfect for those just starting out!
SAMANTHA NUNES WITH STERLING REVERIE PHOTOGRAPHY
“I know it has been said countless times and that you have heard it before. I know I did and yet I still faltered. I hesitated. I stagnated and pushed off the inevitable waiting for the never arriving promise of a perfect time. If there is one word I could encourage my younger photographer self with it would be "start". If you are reading this blog you are either on the fence of starting and stagnating or you have just begun your journey. If you are on the fence I urge you to start. If you have just begun, I commend you, keep going. Momentum is an amazing force. Once you start, never look back, keep pushing, build that momentum and enjoy the ride.
Along the way, make sure to find your people. Having a strong foundation of like-minded professionals to call friends is invaluable. I have made a myriad of mistakes along my journey as a photography entrepreneur one of the most impactful was not finding my community earlier. Life is meant to be shared and this voyage is no different.”
David Enloe with The Enloe Creative
TAKE THE LONG VIEW
“The photographers who stand the test of time are those who have adopted the long view. The sooner you do, the sooner you start moving towards that fulfilling career you’re dreaming of. Photography is not the path to a quick paycheck; try to start making choices that reflect that.
Early on, it can be really tempting to cut corners. I cannot tell you how many times I neglected to really learn a skill or implement a thoughtful system, convincing myself that later I would have more time and resources to “do it right.” Instead, my cut corners and seat-of-the-pants mindset meant that I was just wasting my time while also diminishing the experience I provided for my customers.
I am not telling you to go buy every software, take every class, or spend weeks perfecting an email sequence for a clientele that does not yet exist. Rather, take your time as a new photographer to explore and experiment, and don’t cut the corner on that process either. Learn your niche, learn what you love. But once you have that figured out, grant yourself the time and space to build it in a way that feels true to your vision.
I know that this advice can feel overwhelming because you don’t yet know what it means to ‘do it right.’ Instead, let this be liberating. Every time you feel that pressure to choose between a short-term fix and a long-term solution, just ask yourself which is true to your vision. The quick fix might earn a few dollars right away, but never enough to sustain a business. Instead, lean into the fact that you are taking the long view, and enjoy the process of building something you love.”
Becky Langseth with Becky Langseth Photography
“I would tell my younger photographer self to stop spending hours of my time "researching" and "learning online" and just start actually doing the thing - whether it be blogging, marketing, shooting in different lighting situations, or running model calls. Sometimes I would get so carried away with trying to research all the things online (and there are SOO many things to learn online) when you just need to get out there and do it. And in reality, maybe I didn't want to do the thing, so I would spend time scrolling the internet or social media, and "learning" but still doing nothing.
So I would tell my younger photographer self to just do it scared, and learn from my experiences.
For example, if you need more images for your website that are consistent, just run a model call and do it. If you need to do more social media marketing, just post it. If you need to write more blogs to help with SEO, marketing and client information, just write the blogs and post them.
Indecision is a decision. And there is a time to learn and research, but after a while, if you are still researching and learning, maybe you should just get out there and start trying and doing. And then you can learn from both your wins and your mistakes.”
Jaime Bugbee with Jaime Bugbee Photography
“I would say relax and know this will take a while, you will get frustrated and want to quit, but that is a part of the process, and going in the right direction. Work on your skills first; learn white balance: lighting and posing. Then move on to the marketing/SEO elephant because that is like eating an elephant. You have to do it one bite at a time. Last. Invest IN YOURSELF! I'm not talking about pre-sets but about masterminds/coaching! Bonus: that stuff you hate doing-pay, someone to do it.”
Neyssa Lee with Neyssa Lee Photography
"I would tell myself to trust in the process and not try to rush figuring it all out. Because by rushing you skip important steps, you make decisions based on what everyone else is doing. I would also say that your time is valuable right not, not when you reach a certain income goal. When you start treating it that way you’ll see way stronger growth. "
Shannon Tessier with Tall Poppy Photography
“Don't be afraid to try a bit of everything or feel like you need to niche down right away. We're bombarded with branding advice that makes us feel like we're doing it wrong if we're doing different things but when you're new, you need a variety of opportunities and experiences to hone in on what you enjoy and what you're being called to create. For example, in the beginning, the thought of maternity didn't interest me at all but turns out I really love it! I also thought my editing style would be more muted and simple but in reality, I love playing with bold, colourful, moody edits. It takes time to figure these things out so give yourself the space to grow into it.”