We hear it all the time… “It must be so amazing to be able to work together!” That or we hear, “I have no idea how you do it, I could never work with my husband/wife. They would drive me crazy”. It has become a super common thing that comes up during weddings or family sessions.
The truth of it is that it’s both of those. It is amazing and there are days where we don’t know how we’re going to do it. It’s also one of those things that needs constant work because things change. Patience and I have gone through several different phases of our business where we did different things and sometimes it didn’t work out very well but we kept working at it. We kept adjusting and learning because that’s what it takes to find success.A few weeks ago we were asked this question by Cicely from Rusted Van Photography…
“How do you balance your own creative and artistic vision while maintaining a brand and cohesive look? My husband and I are still trying to find a way to both play an active role in our business, but it’s a challenge! We both love to shoot, and we both enjoy editing – so, we are finding that we end up tripping all over one another and we aren’t sure who should be doing what. Sometimes I think this leads to one of us overstepping the other and one always feels artistically “slighted”.”It really got us thinking about how we got to where we are now and what we went through to figure this question out for ourselves. A lot of it was trial and error and a lot of it was not giving up when we were discouraged about our place in the business. Patience used to ask me after sessions, “What is my role in the business? I don’t feel like I’m contributing anything to the shoots we are doing.” That is a really tough thing to deal with because we both need to be involved for this whole thing to work and it took some pretty serious growing pains to get to a point where we are both pretty comfortable and confident in the part we play to make what everyone knows as “Joe and Patience”.
After several years of going around and around about the whole business role thing we finally sat down with a pad of paper and a pencil and went through every single part of our business we could think of. Once we had all of the tasks and workflow steps listed we started assigning them to the person who we felt was the strongest at completing those tasks at the time. This is going to be the point where you need to let go of your pride and be honest with yourself and your spouse. These assignments are business related and are not meant to be taken personally. If you have never done this I want you to say this to yourself out loud. “These assignments are are for the good of our business and I will not take it personally.” This is really, really important and like Patience and I, it may need to be saved for a time when you’re in the right mental state to take some criticism in the form of being taken off of doing certain tasks that you enjoy doing.I completely understand that it may be pretty difficult to release some control but it will be a really good thing. By doing this you’ll avoid the constant stepping on each other’s feet that we experienced in the first couple of years being in business together. You’ll avoid sending nearly duplicate emails to the same client, paying your bills twice and ordering your client’s products twice as well. Yep, we’ve done all of those and more. This will literally save you money in the long run and it will help you to avoid embarrassing situations with your clients. It’s 100% worth the time and potential of temporarily damaged pride to get it done sooner rather than later.
The most important thing to remember is that you and your spouse have a common goal with your business. Maybe you’re trying to get to the point of leaving a 9-5 or you’re doing it on the side to be able to pay for vacations with your family. Either way, it doesn’t matter, there is still a common goal and it’s worth taking the time to figure this out.So, grab some paper, a pencil because you’re probably going to want to erase some stuff and sit down together without any distractions. Make sure you’re both emotionally ready to dig deep and start writing. You’re going to want to make a list of every single thing that gets handled in your business. Client communication, bills being paid, scheduling, who does what at every type of session you may shoot if you’re a photographer, etc. Once you have all of those things listed you’ll need to go through each task and talk about it. Some of them might be really easy while some of them might be a bit more difficult. Just remember to be open, honest and that there is a common goal.
Next week we’re going to go through our list of tasks and explain why we have assigned specific things to each of us.
Thanks for taking the time to read and like always, we’re more than happy to answer questions you might have. Just send us an email at email@example.com
Whoa! It looks like this thing is becoming a whole series! Check out the previous posts here.
Photos of our 10 year vow renewal by the amazing Jonathan Canlas!
I’m sure a lot of you know what it feels like to plateau with your work. I know that I go through the same thing and it’s incredibly frustrating because as a creative I always want to be getting better. The best mindset to have in dealing with this is something that Jonathan Canlas says. He approaches each and every shoot with the goal that it’s going to be the best work he has ever produced. I can’t imagine a better way to approach a creative field than that and I try to apply that to everything I do as a photographer.
It just isn’t that easy all of the time though is it? Sometimes you hit points in the creative journey where you want to give up or just put whatever you’re doing down for a while in hopes that you will refocus and have a better vision of what you want to create. What in the world do you do then? Obviously giving up isn’t an option but sometimes standing back and getting some perspective is a great option but what if you don’t want to put what you’re doing down?You have to challenge yourself. You have to find the borders of your comfort zone and push beyond them. The thing that’s awesome about pushing yourself past your comfort zone is that in a lot of cases that’s where you will make the best work you’ve ever made.
The following exercise is something that I do to push past my creative boundaries. It’s simple, doesn’t take a lot of time and has also helped improve our time as a family because it forces me to put the camera down and be present with Abbee, Noah and Patience in whatever we are doing. We believe in this so much that our entire About Us Video is based on this exact idea. If you have a family and have trouble with being behind the camera too much this is the perfect exercise because it will force you to put your camera away.I call it the one roll project and it is exactly what it sounds like. I take one roll of film and an old 35mm camera with us during family outings. Once I shoot that one roll of film my time behind the camera is done. The challenge with it is to create something that is worth displaying as a story. It’s easy to pull that off when you have nearly unlimited frames to use but when you have a maximum of 36 photos you have to be very conscious and calculated with the photos you decide to take.
Here’s my challenge to you in those times of artistic frustration. Simplify what you do and find a way to limit yourself while also challenging yourself to create something cohesive and complete. It definitely isn’t easy but it is incredibly rewarding when you do it right. If you don’t shoot film? Challenge yourself with your digital camera. Limit yourself to the exact same number of photos and don’t delete anything. When you get to that limit put the camera away and remember that if it doesn’t turn out exactly how you hoped that your next session will always be your best work.All of the photos in this post are from one roll of film during a day when my son Noah and I walked around downtown Bellingham. They’re all really simple and I wanted to capture him being himself, crazy faces and all. More than that though, I wanted to spend time with him exploring the city we live and work in. By only using one roll of film I wasn’t attached to the back of my camera the entire time. I was spending time asking him questions, watching him be silly and enjoying his company. The fact that I was able to use this time challenge myself artistically was just a bonus.
If you don’t shoot film but want to give it a try feel free to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and mention the film guide. We have a free guide to shooting film that we would love to share with you. Film has had a huge effect on the way we now approach photography and we love to help people get started with it. All photos were taken with a Nikon F3 on Agfa Vista Plus 400 and scanned by PhotoVision.
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