If it appears that my upbringing put me behind the eight ball, you’d be sadly mistaken. If you’re going to be an entrepreneur, you have to be fearless! Just wait until you learn to laugh at fear and embrace failure. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you’d better be disciplined and most certainly be prepared to outwork everyone. If you’re even thinking about long term business/career success, then you have to set extremely high standards for yourself. Individuals and companies won’t hire you for mediocrity. I employ all of these traits instilled in me during my upbringing daily in my professional and personal life.
The life of an entrepreneur is not easy, and I work more now than I did at any 9–5, but realizing early on what made me happy and turning it into a business is what allowed me to redefine work as enjoyment, relief, and excitement. My days start at 4 a.m. and don’t stop until the work is done, but ever since I was laid off, I have never worked again.
Sometimes I wonder, where did I get it from. I remember when I was a child and my father used to take me with him to the darkroom to develop film. He loved to take photos and enjoyed his time developing them. I grew up in Western New York, in the suburbs of Buffalo where the photography community was pretty much non-existent. Forget about a community of African American photographers. So I guess it's not surprising that I was never inspired to take up photography.
Trust me when I tell you, I am right there with you. Turn on the news, negativity. Go to social media, negativity. Family, friends, negativity everywhere. So what happens? This eats away at you, eats away at any creativity you may have left in you. It leads you to start questioning everything you believe in. Am I resonating with anyone yet? Or is this just me?
In the end, we are who we are, we love what we love, we do what we do, and that is sufficient. Being female in America is a journey. Embrace the skin, the gender, the size, the role, and everything that makes you, You. This no doubt is what your client initially sought you for. Stay in the fight and continue to reach. Your talent and skill are what others see.
Here is the reality: as I write this almost 30 million Americans are unemployed. Will they get their jobs back? Time will tell, but I'm sure we can agree that 30 million people will not go back to work immediately. Some businesses will never recover. There will be long-term unemployment. That news alone is concerning to any business owner. If your customers are unemployed, how will they afford your products or services? Fair question. So, that leads us right back to the headline. Is professional photography dead?
At the start of my journey, I stumbled and made mistakes as we all do… but those mistakes were all part of a steep learning curve. For the first 10 years of my career, I exclusively did private portrait commissions. That experience was invaluable in that it taught me how to deal with children of all ages. It’s difficult at the best of times to connect with a child who considers you a stranger, and to draw out the uniqueness in each child within a very limited time puts huge extra pressure on that connection.
Not so long ago I was paralyzed by limiting beliefs about my talent, my abilities, and my business as a portrait photographer. I made excuses as to why x photographer was successful, consistently booked, had a greater following, and why I did not. Always finding comfort by filling in the blanks with which obstacles (finances, equipment, knowledge, time restraints, or life circumstances) were holding me back from being the artist, creator, and business owner my heart longed for.
Out of nowhere, our country was hit with the largest pandemic in over 100 years. The state of California ordered nonessential businesses to shut down, all while encouraging us to maintain our staff. As we went through late March and early April, weddings on our calendar began to eviscerate. Concerned couples started postponing their weddings or canceling altogether. We were prepared for a record year, and a record year is what we are going to get. However, this is likely going to be a record low as opposed to the record high. So with that being said, how does a business immediately shift gears? We have had to deal with ups and downs before, but never a down that was so severe that it literally prohibited the main service that we provide to our clients.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you know the entire world is dealing with Covid-19 and the aftermath of this has yet to be realized. Panic and desperation are challenging small business owners around the world. So much uncertainty. So much still to be realized as every day delivers more bad news. If you are like me, I am just looking for some positive news. Any glimmer of hope that things will return to normal sometime soon.