June is a big deal for Rare Vision Photography. I officially launched my business and stepped away from my role as the marketing director of a real estate company in June 2017. As I reflected, I decided to share six lessons I learned these last six years.
Lesson 1: Connections matter
This lesson is two dimensional. Connection between people within a photo is super important. When people are looking at one another, laughing and enjoying the time it clearly shows connection. My aim in every session is not only to capture real connection in the images, but also connect with my clients in a real and authentic way. The greatest blessing is building a relationship with my clients and it’s a joy when they book another session with me. It’s at that moment I know I’ve earned their trust and they connected with me in some way.
Lesson 2: Growing is hard
Frederick Douglass once said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” I quickly realized the truth in this statement as I’ve tried to prove that my business was legit not in my eyes, but in the eyes of the government. (For those of you who don’t know, you must show a profit three of five years to be a legitimate business.) Thankfully, I’ve been able to show profit but it hasn’t always been linear. There have been stalls…and bumps…and roadblocks…and steps backwards, but I’ve learned in the difficulty to look at the blessings and enjoy the ride…even if it’s bumpy.
Lesson 3: Patience is key
Building a clientele, a social media audience, someone to read this blog (that’s you!) and portfolio all require patience. I once read, “Patience is a gentle reminder that great things take time and effort.” If I woke up on Day 2 of my business and had it all (the clientele, etc), I don’t think I would appreciate it as much as I do that I realize it came with hard work.
Lesson 4: Boundaries are necessary
Boundaries in business are important. I’ve learned it’s okay if I don’t get to a client when they message me late at night and I can get to them in the morning. I’ve learned that it’s okay to pass on sessions that aren’t a good fit (ahem, weddings!) I’ve learned it’s important to not fill my day with all business. I’m continuing to learn to define boundaries and know that in different season it’s okay to change them.
Lesson 5: Money isn’t everything
When someone hears I’m a photographer, they instantly ask, “weddings?” While the wedding industry is probably the most lucrative for a photographer, I set out to grow my business away from the wedding industry. While I’ve shot a few weddings and enjoy second shooting for photographer friends, I know weddings aren’t my thing and while the money is good, I’m okay with passing on it for more time with family and doing sessions that fill me up.
Lesson 6: Learning is continuous
I listened to a history podcast with my kids and a World War II veteran was interviewed. He encouraged listeners to be always a student. Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” I don’t know everything about owning a business, growing a business, even photography, but I can learn. As I continue to learn, I continue to get better and grow into a photographer and business owner I aim to be.
These are just six of the vast amount of lessons I’ve learned as a photographer and business owner. I hope as I look back in the next years, I’ll be able to add more and more lessons learned to this list.