Photography Business Mentoring

Hey everybody!  My name is Joe and I am a fearful person.  This is a great way to start, right?

Not fearful in a don’t want to step out of the house kind of way but fearful in a way that I don’t want to let people down.  This fear has been a driving force at every one of my past jobs and has always helped me to succeed.  It has also helped us to constantly refine the methods of our business in an effort to provide the absolute best service possible but it definitely has a few byproducts that can be very, very crippling when trying to run a business and plan for the future.

In no particular order, here they are.  My biggest four fears…

I have the fear of losing my passion for photography.

I have the fear of losing touch.

I have the fear of our work not mattering.

I have the fear of not being able to provide for our family.

These four fears are all things that I constantly have to work on because they regularly creep into my head when I have doubts.

Losing my passion for photography…  seems ridiculous right?  I almost always have a camera in my hands and even when don’t I still I see everything around me in a ways that I could frame with a viewfinder.

Most of us got into photography because we enjoyed taking photos but the business side of things can get really exhausting.  We end up spending hours and hours stuck behind our computers editing, emailing and working on our websites.  It starts to feel like the more business you get the less you are actually taking photos.  That can be a huge passion killer and one that constantly comes back and worries me.

The absolute best way I have found to combat this fear is by shooting personal work.  I photograph my kids, I start personal photography projects and if I need inspiration I’ll take a walk and photograph anything that catches my eye.  This is time I have to schedule because I won’t do it otherwise.  It’s easy for all of us to find something more important than what we want to do for ourselves.  In all honestly though, this is huge!  You need to be doing photography for yourself.  It’s these walks and small projects that have helped me to build my voice so far and continue to make me excited about learning and trying new things.  It is your personal work that will mold and shape the way you shoot for your clients.

Another big part of this for me was finding a way to do personal projects without adding a large amount of my time at my desk.  We work a lot and I don’t ever want to take away from our time as a family.  Learning to shoot film was a great way to challenge myself and complete this unpaid work with as little of a time investment as possible.  It definitely doesn’t hurt that the overall look of film is amazing!

Photography Business Mentoring

Losing touch… I have absolutely no proof that this is ever going to be a problem but it’s something that scares me to death when planning for our future as photographers.

Imagine being a young engaged couple planning your wedding and you are at the point where you are meeting with two photographers.  The first photographer comes in and she’s in her mid 20’s, has shot 30-40 weddings and makes an amazing personal connection with you at the meeting.  The second photographer comes in and while he has an amazing portfolio and has shot hundreds of weddings he is an older man who is slightly out of touch with trends and isn’t able to connect with you in the same way as the younger photographer.  Who would you book?

My fear is that the younger photographer will book this wedding nine times out of ten not because they are more talented but because the age difference creates the feeling that the older photographer can’t relate to the younger couple.

The thing that’s so crazy about this is that I have no real proof and haven’t personally witnessed this ever happening.  It’s simply a worry that I have that makes me scared about what the future holds and when I’m scared about these things I become much more likely to continue down a path that I know and one that I’m already comfortable with.  This definitely isn’t a path to success.

Every time I start to get that scared feeling about what the future holds I have a few things I need to remind myself of.

First, it’s great to have plans for the future and it’s important to have goals but when you’re doing something that is new to you there needs to be a level of flexibility.  If you aren’t flexible with your goals there’s a good chance you’ll end up being disappointed in yourself.

Second, approach things one day at a time.  Even though I think we need to be flexible with our goals and what your path needs to be it’s important that we complete each and every task and do our very best at what is in our control each and every day.  Focusing on the small tasks and day to day goals has done a lot to help me work past some of my biggest fears.

Third, the more personal work we do, the more our photography becomes unique.  Try new techniques and take chances with your shooting that are outside of your comfort zone  If you can develop a style and product that is uniquely your own you’ll stand out in any crowd no matter what your age is.  Check out the work of someone like John Dolan.  He’s an older photographer who does absolutely amazing work that stands out in our crowded profession.  His work is incredibly inspiring and is great proof that my fear of losing touch is completely unfounded.

Photography Business Mentoring

This next fear is downright ridiculous and I don’t know if everyone gets down about this or not!  It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like my work doesn’t matter.  The photography and wedding industry constantly pushes imagery out there that makes it easy to feel like your work doesn’t matter unless it’s on the latest and greatest blog or published in a wedding magazine.  Our whole society is starting to be like that.  It’s non stop photography no matter where you go.  The list of sources is massive and most of those sources are in our daily lives.

It’s so important to remember that our photography matters to our clients more than we might ever know.  We capture moments during weddings and family sessions that are specific to that place and time and may never be exactly like that again.  These are historical moments for our clients and they carry significant weight.  As a photographer it truly is an honor to be a part of these moments and it’s my duty to never forget this.  What the rest of the industry is doing really doesn’t matter as much as your own clients do.  I can’t stress this enough!  Your clients matter more than what the rest of the industry is doing.  If you do everything in your power to give them the best photos possible, your work will matter to the people that matter.

Photography Business Mentoring

The last on my list of the big four fears should probably be the first on my list since it’s the main reason it took us as long as it did to go full time.  It is the fear of not being to provide for my family financially.  This one is a pretty big one and definitely has moments where it hits me with a vengeance.  In fact, it’s a big enough fear to me that we’re dedicating an entire post to it coming up next week.

Whether you view Jesus as a wise teacher or believe he is your Lord and savior there is a lot to be learned about fear in the Bible.  The following Bible verses have been a huge help to me and Patience when facing hard decisions, doubt and fear.

Psalm 24:4  –  I sought the Lord and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

Matthew 6:34  –  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I’m looking forward to next weeks post on financial fear and feel really blessed that you took the time to read our post this week.  Please feel free to email us any questions you might have, we would love to hear from you.