“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. “
I have been excited to write this post for awhile now and then when it finally came time to sit down and write, I couldn’t seem to get my thoughts together. I just continue to hit the delete key or back space over and over again…But, I am going to write this, unedited, raw and with my horrible grammar! The reason I am so excited about this post is because it has been 1 year this month that I started my photography business. I never thought in a million years that this last year would have happened the way it has. I have experienced every emotion, every high and every low, and yet I would do it all over again. Because through this crazy journey, I am beginning to find ‘me’. I get asked all the time, how I started? If I could pin point why I am where I am today and who were my biggest supporters, leaders, and mentors it would go to my husband, my son, my sister Candace, Trevor Dayley and Marvell Smith. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
So how did it all start? I had attended Trevor Dayley’s Photography workshop in July a few years ago and was learning to use my camera. After that I started shooting quite a bit. He posted on FB in February (1 year ago) that he was doing a workshop in Mexico that following July. I was so excited that I immediately called my husband and told him I wanted to go. My husband then reminded me that I had no money and if I could figure out how to pay for it, then I could go. Well that day I started a FB page, started a blog, decided to quit doing sessions for free, set up my business license, opened an account and set up shop. For the last few months I had been using my mom’s camera since I sold mine and was waiting to see what I wanted to get. Well after setting it all up….BAM!! I hadn’t been ‘in business’ for 24 hours before I started getting knocked down. What a reality check! Other photographers were knocking my work, people close to me weren’t supportive and it was a rude awakening. But there is one thing you need to know about me…if someone says I can’t do it, I fight back and say ‘watch me’. And because of that, I was so determined to succeed! I paid for both my husband and I to go to Mexico in one months time. Thank goodness for Trevor! He was my cheerleader coaching me to stick with it and encouraged me to keep moving forward!
In the meantime, as all that was going on, I had someone recommend I check out Vellvet Images Photography page. I checked it out and LOVED what I saw and immediately sent an email. It was actually a common thing for me to find photographers that I liked, I would then email them and ask simple questions, or if they mentored etc and I would never hear back from anyone. I have to admit that by experiencing that, I decided I never wanted to be that kind of photographer… I wanted to help and encourage and there are no secrets!! Well let’s just say I was completely shocked when I received an email 5 minutes later from Marvell Smith with Vellvet Images. He knew nothing about me, where I lived, who I was and replied with, “No I don’t mentor right now as I am so busy lately. But, I would love to help when and how I can. Ask me any question you want!” I was shocked, excited and kind of scared. An amazing photographer that doesn’t know me is going to help me? I wrote back and asked if he would look at a few of my images. Which he replied that he would and that is how Vell and I started. I sent him images, he critiqued them….HARD. He would tell me a concept and tell me to study it, work on it and get back to him. There were multiple nights that I stayed up and studied until 2 am, practicing, working and determined to learn. At the beginning it was a hard time for me. I had a 1 1/2 year old, I was taking care of my handicapped sister, watching over my parents 6000 sq ft home and yard, and many rental properties and my husband had a job that he lived out in SLC (3 hours from me) during the week and would only come home on weekends. It was a hard balancing act, but I wanted it so bad!!
I had to learn to trust myself…to not beat up on myself because everyone else would do that for me. Throwing yourself, your work, your heart, your imperfections on the web was a very scary thing. You became vulnerable because every shot you took, had a piece of you in there. If someone didn’t like it, you had to learn to realize it wasn’t a personal attack, just an opinion. I learned to know my worth because no one else would. Tears were a common thing…but so were the smiles. I loved meeting new people, I loved challenging myself, I loved when I showed someone a picture on the back of my camera, (unedited) that I would get tears of joy. I seriously felt like I was doing what I was meant to do. I had finally found my calling. 11 years of hair, 4 years of being a Real Estate agent and I can honestly say that this is the HARDEST of them all emotionally! I stayed up watching youtube videos, online courses learning how to edit, photography rules, lighting and anything else I could get my hands on.
Vell tried to get me to 2nd shoot with him for almost 5 months before I finally gave in (I was scared to shoot with him) and we shot some bridals together. He got my images that night, and called me. Honestly I was scared to hear how I did…but he asked me to shoot their wedding with him in a few weeks. From then on we started to shoot almost everything together. Our styles were very similar (but different in our own ways) our personalities matched in a way that he was everything I’m not and vice versa but it seemed to work and well my business changed in many ways and he also became one of my best friends. All from a simple email and him believing in me….
Although I can honestly say the biggest turning point for my business was 4 months ago. Many things happened. I got involved with the most AMAZING group of photographers who are my 2nd family. They live all over the world and yet I feel like they are in my back yard and I couldn’t imagine having this journey with out them. I love my Showiteer family! I got asked to speak at a 5 minute fuel in Vegas which made me think about a lot of things differently, I was able to attend WPPI for the first time and I was able to do my first adoption placement shoot which I feel is my calling in life. It is the reason God allowed me to have this talent and learn it so quickly, because it was a gift that I needed to be able to share because of how it has touched my life! I also continued to get asked if I would teach or mentor. So after going back and forth about it, Vell and I decided to put a class together and have taught two and have 3 more scheduled on our books. So in my first year of business I have shot 10 weddings including Mexico, AZ, Moab and other various locations, I have shot 50 of my own sessions and 2nd shot about 15 others. I have taught 2 workshops, spoke in Vegas and learned to get out of my way. I am not saying this to toot my own horn. In fact, it has been a rough, crazy, emotional, rocky and wonderful year. So if anyone asked what advice I would give starting out…I would say this:
Believe in yourself
Work for a cause, not for applause. Live life to express, not to impress. Don’t strive to make your presence noticed, just make your absence felt. – Unknown
Try to make your next shoot, better than your last
Learn your gear
Be positive and uplifting
Find a mentor
Shoot with as many people as you can. 2nd shooting opened a whole new world for me!
Throw yourself out there!!
One reason we struggle with insecurity: we compare our “behind the scenes” to everyone else’s “highlight reel”. ~Steven Furtick Stop doing that!!
I’ll end with this…when I got asked to speak at the 5 min fuel for the Showiteer group, I would love to say that I knew what I was going to talk about. At one point I did. I had it all written out and some things happened and I had to change my course. But I went there, not knowing what I was going to speak on. I had a video in mind that I wanted to share because it had hit home to me many times in my life! I then wanted to allow the last year to sink in, to soak in what others were saying while I was at WPPI and talk about what I felt like not only I needed to hear, but everyone else could benefit from as well. It all came together just hours before. I hope you don’t mind, but I thought I would share it here as well…..
I start speaking at 54 minutes. But if you can listen to the entire video, you won’t be disappointed! SOOO many amazing photographers, talks, advice were given that night. You will walk away enriched!!
I am SO excited for what this next year will bring. I already have some amazing, exciting things coming up and so excited to share them with you. I love my family so much, my fans, my clients and I love all of my photography friends. Seriously this has been an amazing journey. I am so grateful for those who have believed in me, the positive reinforcement, the structured criticism, the brutal honesty, the shoulder to lean on and the hand that took mine and encouraged me to keep living my dream. I am taking my own advice that I said in my talk, “Dream, but let it be YOUR dream. Live your dream. Figure out what that dream is and don’t hold yourself back. Get out of your way. I look back and the times I was most scared or the times when I haven’t been able to do what I most wanted to do, it’s usually just been one thing and it’s me, standing in my own way. So if that’s one thing I could leave with you it’s to get out of your way and live your dream.”