Friday, April 11, 2008

How to go from this, to this, this!

It's a long story, but it wasn't necessarily hard, and it surely wasn't glamorous. I did however go full-time with my photography business on January 1, 2007 and I'm going to share you some tips on what I've learned:

1. Get out paper and write out a detailed description of what you'd like a WEEK in your full-time photography life to be like. Describe your clients. Children? Brides? Everything? Describe your setting. Are you on location? Renting a studio? Do a whole week. How much time do you want to spend at the desk? How much time do you want to spend doing other things? Visualization is NUMBER ONE. I marvel at the fact that everything on my cluttery desk had to be invented by SOMEBODY. Look around at every object! Everywhere you see a THING, you see the result of somebody's idea, visualization, and risk taking. That's always been so inspiring to me.

2. If you don't have an established group of clients already, start growing one! While you do this, you'll start to notice what types of shoots you love to do the most. Also, I always made sure that all of the people who I see more than once, knows I am a photographer! That means, the gas station clerk, your bank tellers, your hairdressers, people at your church, people at your hubbie's work, etc. You don't have to go on and on about yourself; just mention it. Most people think meeting a photographer is pretty cool. Hand them a card; ask for theirs, if it is appropriate. You'd be surprised what'll happen; you'll actually start to FEEL like a photographer! It took me forever to feel like a "real" photographer. I thought something magical was going to happen, and I'd wake up, and feel different. But it didn't come on it's own. I had to give myself permission to feel like a photographer.

3. Figure out your "X" amount. How much income do you need to contribute to your family budget? Is there a way to cut back on your current job while increasing income coming from photography? Another huge part of this is, are you WASTING money every month? Take a good, hard look at your expenses. I'm naturally a frugal person, I like things simple. We don't have car payments (we buy used), we eat at home and entertain at home. I like to think of it as "purifying" our lifestyle. I am so thankful for the family I've been given. It puts everything into perspective. Even old couches. The kids aren't done spilling on them, anyway.

4. If you're a parent, you need support! Even if you're not, you still need support! My parents help watch the kids when they can, Brent is home on the weekends when I'm doing weddings. You are the BEST person to identify who your support team can include. There's always SOMEBODY in life who wants to be your cheerleader. Let their cheers SOAK in! I've always thought it would be awesome to be a life coach. Then I could be part of people's teams and help encourage, listen, and answer questions! Maybe this is the beginning?

5. Do something BOLD!
Call or email a photographer you admire! Ask a question! Go to a workshop! Go to a seminar! Go to a PUG meeting! Read magazines and books! The more you saturate yourself and surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to do, your goal seems to get more and more obtainable.

For example, my mom showed me a newspaper clipping about Me Ra, and I emailed her! I went to a David Jay workshop and of course Me Ra's. Me Ra's workshops are an AMAZING resource! I just went last October! What a great help that would have been when I was just starting out, and still it was an incredible boost after being a photographer for a few years. But I was scared to do every one of these things. Clammy hands three hours before I went to my first PUG meeting...

6. Pay attention to EVERY negative thing you say or hear. Stop. Analyze. What is the lesson. What is the greater GOOD? Positivity, thankfulness, and joy give you energy. The opposite of that, destroys it. If you have negative people, or "energy suckers" in your life, do everything you can to avoid them.

Paying attention to your self-talk is huge. Listen to what you tell yourself. You may be telling yourself you can't do it, and you don't even know it. No amount of workshops and equipment can help you if you don't begin to believe it's attainable deep inside.

8. I used to admire women that appeared to "have it all together." The stylish outfit, cute hair. . .or the organized mom, or the mom who was able to accomplish multiple amazing chores/feats in a single day. I felt like I wouldn't be "successful" until I could "be like that."

I saw what qualities other photographers had that I didn't. Do you do that?

What I was ignoring was WHAT I do have, which is a big chunk of creativity, imagination, and idea generating ability. I love people and meet them easily and I have a huge amount of compassion for the awkwardness of having your photo taken. I love taking risks and being scared and going for it anyway! I am comfortable shooting in unpredictable situations, and new locations, and off beat locations. I have enthusiasm for everybody who tries to work on themselves and aspire for an extraordinary life.

One of my favorite moments was when it started pouring rain when David & Sarah (that's the link to their slideshow) and I were doing their bride&groom shots. The rain cloud just came out of nowhere. I remember my first thought, though I feel a little guilty about it now! "This is my chance to REALLY impress them." They had an outdoor wedding scheduled in about an hour and a half. We were at the park, alone, well, except for my assistant Tatiana and a covered picnic area full of teenagers. David & Sarah were trying to keep it together and figure out a plan B. My only focus was handing them my phone so they could make some calls to family at the reception hall, and try to take the most beautiful images I could of them during this stressful time. I even asked for the help of the group of teenagers. I asked if they'd cheer in a picture with the bride & groom (under the picnic shelter)! They did! I also captured some beautiful shots that David & Sarah loved. Thank goodness it rained. Oh! The cloud eventually passed over and though the chairs had to be dried, their outdoor ceremony went on without a hitch!!

What I just described to you, my personal qualities and advantages, well I passed over those qualities for a long time. Can you believe that? You might be doing that too. "Successful people don't drive '89 Camry Wagons" "Successful people look more stylish" "Successful people KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING"

Oh that's a BIG one.

Can you imagine being successful and feeling like you don't know what your doing?

But it's true, and Me Ra talks about it in her Moms Survival 101 Kit .

What qualities do you long for? What qualities do you have? Ask those who know you best, if you need help.

7. What's your definition of "SUCCESS?" Again, I'd suggest writing it as detailed as possible. For me, I wanted to be home with my kids. I didn't want to be away from them all day while I worked to earn someone else money. I wanted a great marriage. I wanted to invest in real estate. I wanted to do what I love and above all, be an example for my children that you don't have to have a job that you don't like. You can LOVE what you do. I want to help other people love what they do and take those first scary steps towards whatever that is.

I can't believe I'm actually already doing that.

In spite of my fears.

In spite of my not feeling like I know what's going on.

In spite of my dirty station wagon.

You can, too!

Okay. That's all for today. I'll think up a few more....Thanks for going on this journey with me. I want to hear about yours, too. Let me know your thoughts! Remember? I don't know what's going on! lol


Anonymous said...

I got to your blog via the Me Ra blog post about you. Wow..this is such a great post, everything that I needed to hear! I am going to her Sonoma workshop in a few weeks and that along with these wonderful tips, is just what I need! Thanks!

Amanda Mays said...

LOVE this post Julie! You can be my life coach anytime ;)

When's our cocktail party? We should all chip in and hire Priscilla to do our makeup!

Tamara B. said...

Boy! Your post really hit home with me. You stated all the fears I have about myself in photography. I am my own worst critic. I think I take some pretty good shots....or really I feel I get some "lucky" shots. That gives me the drive to keep on trying to be the kind of photog that always gets the money shot, every time. But, there's that little voice that says over and over, "Yeah, that was a good shot, but it was just a lucky one. You don't know what your doing, you can't do it, you're not good enough." Hate that little voice. Wish I could duct tape it! :0)

Thank you for stopping by my blog. Any advice is welcome and much needed. :0p

Abby said...

awesome advice!
thanks julie :)

Sara Montgomery said...

What a great post Julie! You are awesome! I am with Amanda... we need to have our coctail party and I am totally in for Priscilla to be a part of the night!

One Love Photo said...

Thanks for the insight and inspiration! You have a great way with words Julie! I was starting to doubt myself today because of money and the fear of not making enough out on my own. I really needed this, thank you. I have a dirty old jeep (no car payment, thank you). We should start a dirty car photographer club. It so awesome the you raced BMX, HOT STUFF!

Shutterstar said...

WOW! Did you write this just for me! lol My friends always make fun of me for being an entrepreneur. I just think life is too short to do something you don't love. It makes me sad when people tell me they don't even like what they do. You spend so much of your life working, I have so many jobs I say " I always wanted to be a...." I too said I always wanted to be a life coach. My husband thought I was crazy. You have been such an inspiration to me. I am looking forward to meeting you again. Thank you for for all your advice!

Rhona said...

I loved this post and am glad I found your blog through Me Ra. Really powerful words, I still have a lot to learn but I think you've just inspired me to keep on this track and try and make it happen. Thank you!!

Julie Watts said...

You guys this is so awesome! Thank you SO much for telling me that you're out there feeling this! I can't wait to post more!

Ali Brown said...
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Ali Brown said...

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I feel "normal" if there even is such a thing. I have had the tools to start my photography for a couple of months but have just been too scared to step out and DO it. So this is just the encouragement I needed. I don't know you but can already tell you're the kind of person I would hang around. Positive people ROCK!

Hill Reflects said...

You are now the second person that I have read about their photography story. Funny thing is, the other person also took the same workshop at the same time. Thanks for putting this out there. It is encouragement for us newbies :).

Chicky said...

Sign me up coach! Your words are exactly what I need to hear - thank you for sharing this little bit of yourself...