Life Balance As A Professional Photographer | NJ Wedding Photos
Over the next few weeks I am going to address my personal journey of finding life balance as a professional photographer. This is a subject I see discussed often in many of the groups and forums I am in. I also have a lot of “newbies” reach out to me about this and many other topics! I want to help and maybe inspire others with my story and my journey!
In the begging of my career I was hungry, STARVING in fact for work. I took any and every session that came my way. My prices were low and reflected my then not-so-great skill set. If I knew a family didn’t have money I would take whatever they could afford. Sometimes that was as little as $50, and that was ok! (for the record there isn’t anything wrong with this practice as long as other areas are in balance) I was growing, learning, and finding my voice. As time went on and I began to invest thousands of dollars into equipment, grow my skill set and spent endless hours away from my life and relationships I realized that wasn’t working for me. I was pleasing an endless list of clients but I was ignoring my own needs.
80 hour work weeks were my absolute normal. I wanted everyone else to like me and for them to feel full and happy. All the while I was left feeling empty. In the beginning the number of likes an image received inspired me. It flattered me. It’s embarrassing to admit but I often found self worth in my creativity by the interaction on social media. As I grew and matured in all areas of my life I am happy to say this passed. I took the words of my amazing mentor to heart and began to breathe life into my everyday work with them. “Create images your clients want. Create images to wow your client. Throw what you want for facebook out the door and shoot solely for your client”. When I truly began to practice this in all of my work my career grew by leaps and bounds and I began to create the life I had always imagined.
I then began to develop and stick to a business structure. For me this meant charging more on weekends to make it worth my limited time on those days with weddings and life, saying no or charging extra for excessive travel and most important removing the Facebook message option from my business page. Clients who send a quick message “How much is a session w/ u?” usually are not my ideal clients. I was getting tons of these messages and each takes a few minutes to read and respond. I was wasting hours a week on nothing. I want someone who takes a few minutes to research me and looks through my site. I want clients who are invested in me as I am in them. It is OK to only want your ideal clients. There is nothing wrong with loving and respecting what you do and wanting to share that with people who respect and appreciate it.
These three steps may be simple but they helped me learn that I am worth more. My time away from family and not living my own life is worth more then I was charging. Doing this has allowed me to live my life to a more full potential. This allows me to spend more quality time gifting things of bigger proportions. If a story tugs at my heart strings I GIFT that family a session. I donate 40 hours a year to volunteering with photography. Saying no and setting boundaries allows me to give more in the places that mean something to me. I am not saying charge more and make millions. I am saying value yourself and your work. Doing so allows you to give more and do more in life, I promise!
If I were to create a checklist of finding life balance as a professional photographer it would be a mile long. I hope to address many of these issues over the coming weeks. If you are reading this and trying to find balance take the leap and look at your life and career as a whole. What isn’t working? What photography (and personal) things are taking time from your life priorities? Start to make a list over the coming weeks and really take an honest look at it. Tie up loose ends, make some business changes and stick to them. Put your goals in writing, and make a plan of how to obtain them. YOU absolutely can find balance and live the life you imagined.
Stay tuned for part two!
PS- small fact… I HATE being in front of a camera. Since I am getting personal I decided to just skip all levels of comfort and put this out there also!