I am an artist—a creative soul that cannot be tamed, a dreamer with a big heart who refuses to allow societal rules to define me. But I didn’t pop out of my mother’s womb with big ideas and a nomadic spirit; it was something I fought for over the span of several decades. I was born into a world of manners and politeness; you are conditioned to believe the ideals of your community and are told what to say and when to speak. It was a toxic environment that killed individuality and creative expression, but I never realized that there was a different way while inside the comfortable confines of my hometown.
I’m on a mission. For some unexplained reason, I relish in seeing others experience the joy of being an artist and living their dream of making a living with their camera. Hang out with me for any length of time, and I will ask you a lot of questions. Such as: What do you love to do more than anything on the planet? How many non-paid, non-client self-assignments do you do a month? Are you working on a body of images in a series? How do you feel if someone tells you your work sucks? What are you doing to market your work? My goal is to get photographers to get off their butts, get out, and create their own path.
Now, in the world of post-production, we tend to see two camps. There’s that of purists, who believe in just delivering images as they were captured, reminiscent of the days of film before we had Photoshop. And then there are those on the other end of the spectrum who believe in using software to shape, alter, and polish their images before presenting to their clients. I'd like to think I live somewhere in the middle, which I am sure many of you can relate to. What I would like to do here is explore how the right amount of post-production can help you and your business stand out.
About a year into my boudoir photography business, I was being asked to teach from all over, to host workshops, to speak at events, and so I went with it. I taught my first boudoir workshop in Atlanta, GA in 2015. Here we are almost five years later, and I’ve traveled across the country to speak, teach and inspire. But how did I get here? I’ll tell you one thing—it wasn’t easy. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
This is your business. Your company. Your future. You must be confident in your vision. You cannot build your company on someone else’s vision. Think about it. As a photographer, when clients come to me with their Pinterest vision boards, I typically hand them back. Why? Not because I am trying to be obnoxious, but because that was not my idea. I can’t execute on someone else’s vision any more than another photographer can execute on mine.
That was the point when I decided to plan at least one or two creative shoots a month for myself and my soul. When I did that, something changed. I felt more excited. I wanted to run into my studio every morning and just create. After that, I was giving even more to my clients in their sessions and as a whole. I had re-lit that fire I had for photography and creativity. It’s easy to lose ourselves in client work and tell ourselves we don't have the time or energy to shoot anything for ourselves. I’m here to tell you: shoot for yourself. Collaborate, get weird, or just do something outside of your comfort zone.
If you want success, I promise you, it's out there for you to go and get. Make no mistake, there are a lot of people out there who want it just as bad, but the difference is, they are not willing to work as hard as you are to get it. Once you know this and see it, you start to realize that you can truly get whatever you put your mind to. Change your life. Change your world.
No matter the fear or anxiety you might feel toward social media, we live in a world now where we must use it. I’m here to break down my thought process on social media—how I use it to inspire others and create new opportunities.
There is not a single thing about owning a business that is simple or easy. So, I want to lay out the truth behind the long race that lies ahead of you and how you can go the distance and be a successful business owner.
Writing this article is not about regrets; it is about my strong desire to share with others the key components of our success in the hope that others will also be successful. As an industry, we can all rise together if we are willing to share. I am well aware this list could be much longer, but these have been the most critical elements to our longevity and financial stability.