I have a slightly different background than most photographers that I’ve come across. I actually started working for a photographer when I was 17. I was the office manager and “color specialist” (I still throw that term around when anyone asks me if I’m sure about my color choices) Really, it just means that I edited all of the photos that came through. I answered phones, I emailed, I took orders, I burned backups on cd’s and then filed those cd’s… I cleaned, I organized, I sent out mailings, I designed flyers and postcards and I entered sales into PeachTree (does that still exist?).
About a year in, one of our child photographers left and my boss asked me if I wanted to give it a try. I went home and thought about it for a few days – back in the day *everything* was terrifying to me. That girl no longer exists – I’m not sure exactly when she left, but she knows she’s not allowed back, am I right?
So, I finally decided to try it out – my boss handed me a camera and sent me to the studio with her kids to practice. They were dressed in princess dresses and had mardi gras beads around their necks – not exactly my style, even then, but I loved it. And I was good at it.
Eventually I was shooting everything! Weddings, families, seniors, kids. Newborn photography didn’t really exist in our area at the time, but I started seeing these pictures on the internet and I really wanted to explore it. Getting newborn models was almost impossible. People didn’t know to contact us before the baby was even a month old, and my boss wouldn’t let me post on our website that newborn pictures needed to be done before the baby was two weeks old. You see, she was a scarcity thinker. And as I was getting braver, I had no room left to explore and this lead to my leaving.
The clients that worked with me wanted to continue working with me, so I decided to do it on the side until I could find a “real job”.
I applied at Aldi, people.
Didn’t even get an interview. Also, my boss made me sign a non-compete contract a few months before I left (scarcity) and I wasn’t allowed to engage in photography within Crawford County. My clients drove all over the freaking state to work with me. It was unbelievable! I’m still so grateful. The few clients I had that actually lived outside of Crawford County even let me set up my studio in their house for other of my clients to come get their pictures taken. I put about a million miles on my car, and I never hustled so much in my life, but I was loving it. I was finally putting to practice all of the things I had been wanting to try. For instance, we were charging $25 for a session fee at the studio I worked at. You know how much I started out charging when I left? $70. When I got busier than I wanted to be, I raised my prices again, and again. I raised my prices every 6 months for the first 3 years of my business.
Year one I sold 40K, year two 70K, year three 113K, year four 140K and this past year over 180K.
Here’s where I started. With my Nikon D7000 and the kit lens it came with.
I had a new logo like every 5 days. Not really sure why that was so important at the time.
I was *really* proud of this one. Here’s what it’s really supposed to look like:
My bucket shots got quite a bit better… Oh, those poor sweet babies.
Here’s the only thing I really want to tell you, and I want you get it. So, here’s me, sitting in front of you with my hands on your shoulders and I’m shaking you and I’m saying, “Stop.Being.Afraid.”
Do you know what happens if you fail? …..Nothing. Literally nothing. I’ve got it wrong so many times and I’m still thriving, I promise. So start failing, and start learning. Put your big girl panties on and do what you set out to do to, and start today! You might not know where to start, and that’s what we’re here for. But know that your work is good enough this, you are good enough for this.
xoxo – Lindsay