How I Managed My First Year of Photography

Even though we’re into the second week of December, I want to ride on the November wave of thankfulness a bit longer.  Looking back on this year, I am beyond thankful for all the people who came alongside me offering their help, wisdom, and encouragement.  They are the reason I am where I am today.  I consider myself still in the infancy stage of building this God sized dream, but with a year of experience under my belt I can say dreams are not meant to be chased alone, strength lies in numbers.  

Takeaway #1:  Find a mentor who can give you the rundown on all the practical things you’ll need to know as a freelance photographer.  The best tip I was given is to know that being a photographer is 10% taking photos, the rest is paperwork, answering emails, and keeping tabs on mileage/expenses, etc.  If that doesn’t scare you, keep going!!

Takeaway #2:  Your bank account might take a hit the first (second) year of building such a business, accruing more loss over profit.  You have to decide whether this dream is worth investing your time, treasure and talent into.  Portfolio building can be treacherous if you need to support a family, pay a mortgage, while staying on top of bills.  Don’t let that stop you.  Look for areas in your life you can cut back on spending. Do you really need that Starbucks coffee every morning or do you want to one day be your own boss?  

Takeaway #3:  Humble yourself and be the errand runner.  Last Christmas I helped a photographer friend of mine by simply sitting at a table, collecting money while she held mini Christmas photo sessions.  I would have loved to be the one meeting with clients, capturing family portraits and building my client base but I acknowledged there’s a process to learning.  Watching her engage with clients and observing how to operate a family photo session was invaluable and was a crucial step to building the foundation for a successful photography business.

Takeaway #4:  Look for opportunities to be connected with like-minded individuals who have the same passion for photography that you do.  They speak your language, they understand why you want to wake up before the sunrise to catch a beautiful shot.  These people will be the ones who let you borrow their camera lens when you’re still in the process of saving enough money to buy your own, they will be the ones to refer you clients when they can’t take that job themselves, they will be the one to invite you to future gathering’s where you’ll meet even more individuals who can help you grow and expand your reach.  Get ready to say “yes” to new things, new experiences, and new places.