It is written that, “for everything there is a season… A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance… A time to be quiet and a time to speak…” This year has been mostly quiet for me. I have been in a quiet place of learning. Which is the COMPLETE opposite of my nature. I am a talker. I love to make connections, grow, change, and go experience new things. Being quiet doesn’t really interest me, so imagine how hard it has been to be in this season of life. I get bored easily. I am unfulfilled often when I don’t have human interaction. I get depressed when I feel like I am not contributing to society in some way.
I am the type of person that has to learn by ‘doing’ or ‘failing’. This year has been jam packed full of failures that I have had to overcome. For those of you that know me you know I have PLENTY of relational skills and NO organizational skills. I am a true creative in every sense of the word. I have 1000’s of ideas flowing through my brain at any given moment and I only finish or complete half of the things I think of. My brain works in a roller coaster like fashion where I am up, up, up going, going, going and then I fall down ten times faster than the rate I went up. I am sure everyone experiences this in some aspect of their lives or hell, maybe not? Learning for me is a challenge because I only read HALF of the directions before becoming bored with reading and I am ready to get to the ‘doing’ portion of the project. So after years of being a amateur photographer I decided to step it up a notch and learn the stuff that I was afraid to learn in order to become a professional.
- Lighting – I have been a natural light photographer for 5 years and have NEVER until this year learned how to BEND light the way I want to use it. I have always relied on software to FIX my crappy lighting situations. I have done this for years because lights have numbers. I LOATHE numbers so I avoid them at all costs. Exposing properly is difficult to do when you are trying to avoid numbers. Example ISO 100, f-stop 5.6 at 1/50sec that looks like an equation right? So, for years I have been a ‘chicken’ poking my head up looking at clients and then back down trying to look at my screen to figure out if my settings were correct. Up, down, up, down kinda like how when a chicken walks. I signed up to do some education online with another photographer who…..you guessed it HATED lights until she figured out how to use them properly. I started with one light and the largest octobox that I could find on amazon and I was off and running. I didn’t have to go outside ANYMORE to shoot which during a TEXAS summer is a TREAT! I don’t think I will ever have light “mastered” I think that all photographers are constantly learning how to harness what God gives so freely.
- Posing – Posing is the LAST thing that I would’ve ever thought to teach myself but the most beneficial thing I have learned this year. If you step out from behind the camera and step in front of it you will see just how UNCOMFORTABLE it is to stand there without knowing your purpose. This is where photographers really need to step up their game, MYSELF included. I recently did some images for my anniversary that I couldn’t shoot myself and all I kept thinking was what should I do with my hands? Where should I be looking? Am I smiling am I not smiling? I have BINGE watched posing videos and learned a WHOLE heck of a lot about body language so that I can better communicate with my clients exactly what I need from them. I am learning that quiet WILL NOT get you the look that you want. It will get you a WHOLE lot of the SAME look and listening eyebrows.
3. Like minds – This has been the hardest lesson for me to learn. I want to be friends with EVERYONE and invest time into everyone. Not everyone wants the same things as me including clients. NOT ALL clients are YOUR clients. NOT all people value the same things as you and that is okay. Don’t drag your crap around trying to find value in every relationship. Some people will value you and some will not. We are all made differently. If you are a creative and you do not have a person to create with FIND one. Especially if you are at a low point and can’t remember why it is that you love what you do. HOOK up with the closest person who loves what you love and DO it. Here is why….. because you NEVER know how much you know until you are teaching it to someone else! You can’t share your passion with people who aren’t passionate about the same things because it KILLS the passion. This was HUGE for me because I am FUELED by relationships. The best thing that happened to my work was finding a girl named Judy Francis. Not because we instantly had slumber parties, long chats, or brushed each others hair, but because she is passionate about the SAME thing as me, ART. Every time we chat I am FILLED with excitement because we collaborate! She would have an idea and BOOM I would add to it. We would come up with an entire concept, get together and create it. She and I can literally stand in the same spot looking at the same model and come up with two entirely different images. It is the BEST to find someone to shoot with and share your work with because you learn where it is you can grow by watching where their strengths are.
4. Photoshop – For years I have been strictly editing via Lightroom. I have always had Photoshop but I rarely ventured into that scary world of wasted time. I can’t tell you how many hours I have wasted just trying to figure out what it was that I wanted to do. Now, I take images with a plan! I go into photoshop with a plan of exactly what it is that I want to do. I also really try to make sure that everything is perfect so that I can spend less time cleaning an image up. I really love to add texture to my images and have been working on learning how to composite. My favorite tool – CLONE tool. That one is pretty much a NO brainer as far as how to use it but WHERE to use it and how much is where it could kill an edit. I used to take out the under eye area of clients because I didn’t know you could just adjust the flow to make it go on a little lighter. The next best thing to know is how to use CURVES. This is seriously a game changer for a few reasons. I can’t really explain CURVES fully so I will just show you the power that it has.
5. SEO/Marketing/Advertising – I am from a small town where everything is done by word of mouth and a good old NEWSPAPER ad. Moving to a city that is new and not knowing anyone has been a challenge. My friends and family value me and want to support me so finding clients was pretty easy in Florida. Here in Texas, it is THE HARDEST part of running a business. Mostly because finding clients that want and value the service you are able provide is tricky. It was also the most boring thing I have had to learn this year, but also the most important. You can have all of the creativity in the world but if you aren’t finding clients you are NOT working. Marketing and selling myself is NOT my strongest attribute. However, it just so happens that I have a marketing genius in my family and when I actually “LISTEN” to what he says things tend to go as planned. I told you I am mostly a talker so “listening” is not always my strong suit. I basically had to fail for a few months on my own trying a bunch of stuff that didn’t work. I was trying to re-invent the wheel. I had to sit down and learn how to run an ad on Facebook. I attempted to sell on Groupon. Advertising and Marketing materials are also hard because you have to create them. To be able to create them you have to catch someones attention. You have to give them information but not too much information (again TALKER)!! I lucked out because my Aunt and Uncle are both in the business of advertising so when I made my first PDF ‘Magazine’ to send out to clients. They proofread it and offered fantastic feedback. Feedback (criticism) for me has been stressful at times because it can be overwhelming and makes me want to give up. I felt like I had already failed and the material hadn’t even made it into a clients hands yet. I have finally learned how to take criticism (well, some) and apply it instead of being paralyzed by it. My Uncle actually sat on the phone and combed over 25 pages of detail to a Magazine that I have been working on. The first 10 minutes of the conversation all I could think about was how I failed but I hadn’t failed at all! I created this amazing BOOK of my work that I get to present to clients to explain in a few words what would take me forever to get out. I have a marketing TOOL to keep with me to show. All of my hard work and long hours sitting at my computer trying to come up with how I want to run my business and it is all out of my head now. He helped me organize it in such a way that I WANT TO PAY ME TO create my legacy. I am still in the process of finishing that little GEM up just in time for another issue.
All and all I will tell you that running a business is HARD WORK. Don’t be like me trying to re-invent the wheel for every little thing. Come up with a baseline, EDUCATE yourself and then just do it. I am READY for a new season in life. One in which I get to talk, connect, and create.