3 Life Lessons Photography Has Taught Me

15th April 2017
In: Blog


Learning to be a photographer is hard enough. Years of practice, consuming knowledge and experience, all to be the best you can be with a camera in your hand. Couple this with learning to run a business, it becomes hugely challenging. A challenge I love.
In all honestly this has (and still is) the hardest part for me. Naturally creative, but not so gifted with running a business...but it is amazing to see how, when things seem impossible, it has given me some eureka moments. And fairly big ones too, which have directly benefitted me both creatively and as a person.
I thought I'd share three with you, because these lessons are easily transferable, and totally relevant to everyone.

Number 1

The first lesson learned was the biggest. It took me a while to work this one out.

It wasn't until I took the step into professional photography did I realise that this issue mattered, and didn't matter all at the same time.
Like everyone else on this earth, I see the world and its people in my own unique way, and my work reflects this. I believe this has it's own style. My style. I embrace it now. And so do others, not everyone.
When I first started out, I was commissioned by a client to do a family portrait shoot. After a few conversations, it became clear that she had her own favourite photographer. And it wasn't me. His name was mentioned several times to me. It transpired that this lady had used 'Photographer X' in the past, but due to his increased popularity (and prices) he was no longer seen as their first port of call. I did the job, but was under the impression I didn't match Mr X. Nothing was said by the client, but you know when you get that feeling...?
My style just wasn't the same as his, and made the mistake of trying to change me to suit the client. Never again. It left me feeling that I wasn't good enough, and that my fledgling photography career would be over before it started.

A few years later, the opposite happened. A lady was trying to book a photo session with me in time for Christmas a few years back , but I was struggling to fit her into my schedule. She was waiting for a cancellation, which did in fact arrive. I contacted the lady to tell her, but (in her own words) she had panicked about not getting any photos done and gone elsewhere. I told her I understood, but she was disappointed, to point that she contemplated cancelling with her alternative photographer. Clearly I couldn't let that happen, but it just goes to show...

Lesson learned: Everyone is unique.
And you are too. Embrace it, be you and only you. Everyone will have an audience that appreciates what you do, and you will be their first choice.


Simple, relaxed and unfussy. Three words I think describe my style.


Number 2

The next flashbulb moment, was a touch delayed in setting in....
I've spoken to many, many people over the past few years that run service based businesses, and these two pieces of advice came up most frequently.

The first part is the most obvious, and that relates to the skills I've accumulated over the years. People don't turn into an accomplished anything overnight. It takes a huge investment of time, practice, patience, and, of course, money. All this has to be reflected in the value of my services.
The second was something I hadn't even considered, but actually is the most important aspect of this lesson. Doing what I do, usually means I work out of normal office hours, outside the usual working day. It impacts on my social life, and most importantly my family time. Of course, I am more than happy to take time out at weekends and evenings to help my clients capture their images, it's what I love to do, BUT it does take me away from my family.
It was during one of my my longer chats with a lovely beautician, that this subject came up. She worked evenings and weekends too, and told me to remember, what you are giving up to give your clients the service they deserve, and it should be respected by both you and your customer...

Lesson learned: Value yourself, and what you do.
Respect yourself (and your business) and you and your clients will benefit hugely.


Valuing my clients has always been paramount, but valuing myself? It took a little longer than it should have!


Number 3

Last, but by no means least, is one which became obvious after fighting through the first year of business. Starting out was both exciting, and in some ways, disappointing. I took pretty much any commission on offer, so keen was I to make the business work. However, it left me feeling not so enthusiastic at times. Not every job filled me with glee. Over time I worked out which ones did, and most importantly, which ones didn't. I began to turn down the types of shoot which I didn't like, leaving me more time to enjoy the ones that I did.
The result? Without realising, I now specialise in two areas of photography (Location Portraits and Ladies Boudoir) that I love, which in turn means I can help my clients achieve exactly what they want from my services.

Lesson learned: Do what you love.
You'll enjoy it far more, and become a specialist in your chosen field too.


Location portrait sessions are one of the two areas I specialise in


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