On the day back in October we found out I was pregnant I was obviously overjoyed. But then the next feeling was a little bit of nervous sadness. I felt sad because I was just getting some momentum in my business and I was terrified that a break would kill it all. Even if I wanted to keep shooting full sessions I knew it wouldn’t be good for me physically. Pregnancy kicks my butt (and my ribs…). I’ve always been able to accomplish what I put my mind to and this felt like it was something that was out of my control. What if I was going to fail? I tend to be overly competitive at times and failure seriously gives me heart palpitations.
Now looking back on the actual outcome of the last year I have a much different perspective. I will admit that when I officially launched this whole thing exactly a year ago I thought I knew what I wanted to do and what I was supposed to be doing. After all, I went to school for sales and have always worked in admin, customer service and accounting. What else could there be to business, right? But I kept coming back to a main idea: You can’t get where you are going unless you know how to get there. Well, duh. Taking this break served to give me real perspective. I now truly feel like I can verbalize who I am, what I do and where I want to go. It’s like all the puzzle pieces finally fell into place.
About that phrase “supposed to“. I’m supposed to do what everyone in the industry does. I’m supposed to take any and every photography job I can get my hands on. I’m not supposed to offer digital files and I’m supposed to require a session fee. I’m supposed to recommend khakis and white shirts. I hate that term so bad. If you tell me what I’m supposed to do I’ll likely want to do the opposite.
Here are the things I’ve decided and discovered:
– I will only be shooting in a way that is truly me. There’s obviously a balance between the photos you need to send to Grandma and what you really want. I totally get that. I’ll take those shots you think you’ll need, but I hope you’ll leave the rest up to me. Nine times out of ten people don’t even end up wanting the poses they thought they were supposed to have. I’m always so perplexed when I see a pro on a message board say that their client kept trying to take over to make them do things they weren’t comfortable with. You are hiring me because you obviously like what I’m producing. I hope that you’ll trust me to create a set of images that you’ll be wowed by. If the photographer doesn’t have confidence in their abilities then why would the client?
– I have been able to define my style. I shoot families, newborns, children, parents and births. I shoot lifestyle photos with a loosely posed foundation. What does that mean? The common theme that I found in my work is capturing the true connection between a mother and a baby. Capturing the spark between a husband a wife. Capturing the light behind a toddler’s eyes. Of course I want a nice portrait of my family on my wall, but I also want the real us. I’m drawn to the photos where people are looking at each other, not at the camera. I’ll use props if I think they fit the session, but I think your connection should be the main focus. It’s the feeling I get when I’m rocking my boys to sleep and would kill to have someone freeze that moment in time. That’s what I want to see each time I walk in my bedroom. I just ordered this photo as a mounted enlargement for our room. I had the nurse take it just moments after Max was born. I can’t imagine how sad I would be if I didn’t have these moment to look at for the rest of our lives.
– I am embracing my love and craving for fashion. I have a passion for the editorial fashion look in photos. Everyone puts thought into what they’ll wear for a photo shoot, but I really want to emphasize creativity to my clients. I hope it will never be implied that I think you can’t do it on your own, but I would love to always be a part of the clothes-picking process! I would never recommend to stray too far from what your style is because you won’t feel comfortable. But there is always a way to present the “very best you” with just a few tweaks. I’m making it a priority to share outfit combinations and ideas here on the blog. I’ll even help with shopping if you want me to! I’ll admit I do my fair share of online browsing… Any excuse, right?! I’m even tossing around an idea of a package that includes pampering hair and makeup so you can confidently strut your stuff. Any interest?
– I know my ideal client and I’m only offering you products I truly stand behind. I’m sure there are a million-and-one products I could sell you. You totally need a mouse pad with your face on it! Barf. After looking at who my ideal client would be I don’t think I personally fall too far off that path. You’re a young-ish family who cares about style and an eye for detail. You’re excited by your life and have ideas to share. You want tonbe able to keep your images forever. You want your walls to be packed with photos of your loves. And you want to be able to show off your family at the drop of a hat. This is why the main items you will be offered from me are digital files on a custom printed disc, mounted wall prints and canvases for your home, amazingly beautiful full and purse albums of your session and custom announcements and cards designed to fit your style to a T.
– It’s okay to be polarizing. I know not everyone loves everyone. If you come here, like what you see and agree with what you read then we’ll probably get along pretty well. I’m okay with putting myself out here because I’m not trying to make everyone love me. If you don’t like what you see then we probably wouldn’t be a good fit anyways, and that’s okay too!! I want to work with amazing people who I have something in common with. That’s when the best collaborations come to life! Let’s be real, I am this business. I think it helped that I’ve blogged about our lives for the last three years. I’ve gotten used to just letting it all hang out. It’s not something I regularly advertise, but if you really want to see more of our everyday you can check us out at wootenfam.blogspot.com. I’ll be hiding my face if you decide to go too far back…
– Shooting for me helps me shoot for you. Shooting only for me has served me well. I’m not looking at a scene in a way that I feel I’m supposed to. It hasn’t failed me yet. I have days where I think I’m so far off base and when I take a second look at my work I see me in it. Whenever I try to step out of my comfort zone it is a pleasant surprise. So while I’ve defined who I am going to focus the business on it doesn’t mean I can’t still enjoy getting a little uncomfortable. I hope my images never look the same, but I do hope that they all feel the same.
I almost feel like I should apologize for the length that this post reached. But in the interest of letting it all hang out, I’m not. I challenge you to look inside and embrace what actually defines you. Not what is supposed to define you.