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How To Get Out of A Creative Slump

Good seasons come and good seasons go.

Bad seasons come and bad seasons go.

Seasons of loving what you shoot and produce come…and then they go.

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And when they go, things kinda suck. In those seasons, I feel down, discouraged, and sucked of my joy. When my passion and creativity lack, photography just isn’t the same. Unfortunately for me, I’ve been falling under the “not completely loving what I’m shooting” season. I don’t know what it is but I am not loving my work right now. My clients are happy and I’m giving 100% but when I’m finalizing galleries it just doesn’t feel the same. I’ve been in the place before and I’m here to share my tips of how to get out of a creative slump…at least the ways that have dug me out of my dark hole before. 🙂

  1. Stop comparing. STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO STRANGERS ON THE INTERNET. Strangers, your family, or friends…I don’t care. I think we all need to take a step back sometimes and realize that comparison is the thief of joy and you cannot fully engage your creative side when you are stuck in comparison.
  2. Get off social media. I love social media and am usually pro it. But man, it really does wear on me. The way we continue to put out content and absorb it is scary and sometimes I just need a break from it all. I don’t need to get sucked into the scrolling or videos or whatever. Constantly consuming other peoples’ lives is exhausting and sometimes it’s best to get away.
  3. Take a break. If you can afford it, take a break from shooting. Take a step back, breathe, and think about why you started shooting in the first place. Maybe think about the ways shooting makes you feel and what you want do differently. And if you can take a hiatus, use that time to brainstorm ideas you want to do.
  4. Get connected with other photographers. SHARE YOUR STRUGGLE. I know its hard to be vulnerable but dang it, we need each other. We need to be real because the stress of being a photographer can be really hard. So get connected with people who get it and get real. We all need to be lifted up and encouraged sometimes.
  5. Go back and look at shoots that inspired you. What did you love about that? How can you make more shoots like that happen in the future? Keep your inspiration going and set yourself up for shoots that make you walk away feeling like a boss.

We all deserve to live a happy life and create the best work we can. Make time for yourself and your art and never let anyone tell you to stop creating. Because art and artist make the world a better place. So enjoy whatever season of life you may be in and KEEP CREATING.

 

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Rocking A Senior Business without a Senior Rep Program!

If you’re anything like me, the thought of adding another item to your business to-do list may call for another pint of ice cream or jar of Nutella. But there’s hope. For the last few years, I’ve been running a great senior business without a senior rep or spokesmodel program. Believe me I tried and let me tell you it was an epic fail. My senior reps were shooting with the competition and not referring any clients and I had spent a ton on rep cards, swag bags, and t-shirts without any return on my investment. I couldn’t even get a genuine re-post on Instagram or a share on Facebook without asking first. I was losing the fight and decided to go against the grain and operate my senior business without a senior rep program. And guess what? It worked. Instead of depending on someone who possibly still forgets to turn in their homework to refer me business, I became the spokesperson for my business. And you can too.

Here’s how:

  1. Rock Your Brand. That’s right wear your own company t-shirt while heading to the grocery store, mall, movies, or running errands. You are best spokesperson and face of your company! Building brand awareness for your company is great and allows clients to “put a face with a name.” This is great especially if you’re in a new town or have recently launched your business.
  2. Be Your Own Kind of Awesome. Say goodbye to doing what your competition is doing. Be your own kind of awesome. Your senior clients will love you for who YOU are. If you’re into sports, Broadways and musicals, video games, or shopping, show them and share your awesome. They’d love to know more about the person who’s taking their photos and book someone they can relate to. Don’t be afraid to post behind the scenes of you doing your favorite hobbies on Instagram. You’ll be surprised how much they adore you for just being you.
  3. Be Visible. You can’t be the number one senior photographer in your market if you’re always behind your computer. Get out and be visible in your community. Whether it’s volunteering at their school, handing out business cards or flyers at the local craft show, being involved in the PTO or booster club, or attending sporting events. Teens would love to get to know you and your business.

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Growing your senior business will take work but being active in your community and truly getting to know your clients will have the parents talking about YOU in no time! Before you know it teens will be talking about you and spreading your name with no strings attached!  I’ll tell you more next month about how I’ve built lasting relationships with seniors! Senior photography is all about building relationships with your clients.

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Hey Photographer! You Rock!

PHOTOGRAPHYAWESOMESAUCE.COMHey you! Yes you! Ugh do you ever get sick of the photography industry’s ability to just judge everyone and tear each other apart? We’re all guilty of ranting and complaining, but today let’s stop for a minute and do things differently. Let’s acknowledge that we’re all human and we’re all doing the crazy insane hustle that is owning a business. Owning a business is literally the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s also the most rewarding. So today, smile and remember you’re awesome for even being here and trying this thing. It takes a lot of guts to put your work out there, to ask for help, to make mistakes, and run a business.

I don’t care if you’re a newbie, an experienced photographer, a hobbyist or something else. I don’t care if you charge $10 or $10,000. Maybe you’re working for free to build your portfolio. Lets put our judgements aside for just one small minute and give ourselves a pat on the back for even being here and trying to do this thing. Because this business shit is hard enough. What makes it worse is when we don’t acknowledge how hard we, or others in the industry are working to get to where our personal goals are.

Today I just wanted to post on the blog to remind you that you’re awesome, you’re worthy and to keep kicking ass. Ignore the Facebook posts complaining about photographers who do XYZ, or the haters. If you’ve ever been a hater, stop for a moment and re-evaluate with me. We all make that mistake. Be proud of where you are now and what you’ve accomplished.

If you do one thing today, aside from reading this blog, I want you to be proud of yourself. Find 5 quiet minutes today and sit down and list 3 things you’re proud of in your photography business. You don’t have to shout them out to the world or post them in a Facebook group where you’ll have to worry about the judgement of everyone around you. Just say them to yourself and take a minute to realize that it’s okay if you’re not where everyone else is around you. It’s okay if your goals aren’t as lofty as that photographer down the street. You do you and be proud of that.

Seriously have MAD RESPECT for yourself (and hopefully others) for even trying to do this photography business thing. Spend some time today celebrating that! We all make mistakes and we all learn from them. Today let’s wipe our slates clean, start fresh, and be proud of wherever we’re at.

How to Handle Stolen Images Gracefully

A few weeks ago I returned home from shooting a wedding. It had been a particularly draining day, it was late, I was tired, and all I wanted was my bed.

Until I looked on the fridge and saw a newspaper clipping with my photo in it. A photo that I didn’t give permission to use or even release to a vendor. And suddenly my exhaustion turned to aggravation and instead of my bed, I wanted a carton of eggs and some toilet paper. #sweetrevenge

To make a long story short, a vendor from a wedding took an image off my Facebook business page. Without permission. Then submitted that image to be featured in an article by the city newspaper. And I was upset, furious, and really frustrated because I believe in sharing images with vendors. I’m happy to share images because I know that it takes a community to make a wedding happen. The food, flowers, lighting, music, etc. are a part of the day and as the one who captures the day and those details, I’m happy to share.

Sharing is caring and stealing is not cool. I took a few days to cool down from this because I didn’t want to react out of anger. I find it valuable as a business owner and as a human being to have guidelines to help me deal with conflict. These are the points that I always come down to:

  1. How would I want to be treated in this situation?
  2. Is this a valuable relationship?

Yes they did something wrong. Yes I was upset. But ultimately I want to have a good vendor relationship with this company because they produce good work and I know I will work with them at future weddings.  At the end of the day, I didn’t want to bury this company with bad reviews or demand a stack of cash. I want the wedding industry to be a good community and I think that starts with maintaining good relationships among vendors and coming from places of respect and value.

I wrote an email to the vendor in a polite (but stern) way. Within 45 minutes, I received an email from three different people in the company, including the owner. They were apologetic, got to the bottom of it, and made sure that this would not happen again…to me or any other photographers.

No matter how badly people may treat you, the way you react to situations is a reflection of your business and ultimately, you. It’s important to stand up for yourself and your business and communicate with people in the industry if there are issues. I encourage each of you to stand up for yourself and each other to make the wedding and photography industry a better place.

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How to Book Your First Second Shooting Job

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In my previous posts this month, I’ve gone over How to Be an Awesome Second Shooter and How to Hire Your First Second Shooter. Today I want to talk about something I’ve seen come up over and over again on forums and photography Facebook groups… “Any advice on becoming a second shooter?” or “I really want to get into weddings, what do I need to second shoot?” Being a second shooter can be intimidating, especially that first time. I hope I can shed some light on what primary shooters are looking for and ways you can find local shooting jobs.

I’ll be totally honest, I started backwards. I shot a wedding for a family member and things sort of spiraled from there. Due to my husbands work schedule and the age of our kiddos, I only took on a very limited number of weddings each year and mostly focused on families. In my heart, I knew what I wanted to do weddings full time, I just didn’t have the ability to put my heart into it 100% with a husband who was out of town 4-6 weeks at a time. When we had the chance to move to a new state with “normal” working hours, I was over the moon to get started. However, with no friends or family to even start to get referrals from I knew the only way to build my business was with second shooting. That first season I second shot 25 weddings. Last year, I shot 40 including my own.

For me, second shooting has been essential in building my business. Even though I am booked solid this year, I still second shoot nearly every weekend because I love it so much. Not only that, it ensures my work stays on point and I deal with literally every weird situation you can think of. That first wedding I second shot I completely forgot how to change the time in my camera because I was so nervous, so if nerves are holding you back – I feel you.

So, you’re ready to second shoot…or are you? Here are a few things that primary shooters are looking for in a good second shooter.

Portfolio – There doesn’t even need to be a wedding in there! When my normal second shooters are not available and I put out a call for a new second, there are a few things I’m specifically looking for; proper white balance, focus and style. A second shooter needs to be able to step in if I accidentally fall in a fountain and break my arm, so knowing your skills are solid is essential.

Website– This goes hand and hand with portfolio but I think it’s worth it’s own spot. Most pros are looking for other pros to work with as their second, so a good, professional website will set you apart. If you are just linking your Facebook page and wondering why primary shooters aren’t emailing you, this could be why.

Gear – This may be a chicken and egg situation, but if you are going to be shooting weddings you need gear. Now, you don’t need ALL the gear, but at a minimum you need a good camera (preferably dual slots for back up), and 2 lenses and a flash (that you know how to use). Hopefully this does not come off as harsh, but as fun as weddings can be they are still a very important day in someones life and shouldn’t be used as a way to learn your gear (though you will be learning how to handle the overall day and changing lighting situations).

Now, where to find these jobs? There are a few national groups and websites, but the place you are going to find the most postings for second shooting jobs is in local photography groups on Facebook. These are groups for pros (not just anyone with a camera) and are city and region specific. Search for “San Diego Wedding Photographers” in Facebook and see what comes up! Most are closed but still searchable. If your group has meet ups, go to them. Meet people and network. If someone knows you they are much more likely to hire you over a stranger. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask! Offer to shoot for free as a third shooter or non shooting assistant to build experience.

The hardest part of becoming a second shooter is putting your name out there! Look for a local group, make sure your portfolio is ready and welcome to the wonderful world of weddings!