When you own a business that is based on your skill and talent, it’s a vulnerable place to be, because when you meet with a client you’re not just selling a product that they do or don’t want, you are selling yourself. And while for some people that might be easy, it has never been my strong suit. As a photographer and business owner, I am much more comfortable behind a camera or computer screen, than I am putting myself front and center. If I am being honest, I don’t have an entrepreneurial spirit, I hate sales and numbers, and spreadsheets and growth don’t really excite me. So you might be thinking why in the world did you start a business, and that would be a valid question. A question I was asking myself earlier today, after not booking a client I was really hoping to work with, and it got me thinking about Why do I do, what I do.
I started my photography business because I love photography, and quite honestly I didn’t think much about the business side of it would entail. I have been passionate about documenting moments since I was handed my first 110 camera as a kid, and from that point on all of my friends and family knew I was the one who would be taking pictures, wherever we went (which was a lot more involved back then, because it involved bringing an actual camera, and buying and then later paying to develop the film). I fell in love with the ability the camera gave me to preserve a moment in time. It was so fun to be able to visually retell the history my life, through the images I created. And it gave me so much joy to print the photos, and put them in scrapbooks, that I still enjoy flipping through today. I realized what I enjoyed doing for myself, I could do for others, and that inspired me to take the leap of faith and start my FT business over seven years ago.
What makes my business unique?
A little background about me. I got bit by the acting bug, when I went to a middle school high school for the performing arts. Doing character studies, and figuring out who these people I was portraying were, and what drove them, was fascinating to me. And it taught me to stay in the moment, and focus on the other actor in the scene. It turns out this skill is invaluable as a wedding and event photographer. I notice details, I study people, and I see their connections, and anticipate the meaningful moments before they happen, so I can capture them when they do. These little moments often become some of my clients favorites from the day, and are always my favorite to deliver.
When I was restarting my business after moving back from out of state two years ago, and questioning if I was really up for the challenge. I took a Myers Brigg Style personality test and I figured out that I am a “ISTJ”. And let’s just say I am not in any of the recommended fields for this personality type. But one thing that stood out in the test, was that it labeled me as a “Caretaker”. Not the first thing that normally comes to mind when you think of a photographer, but as a independent business owner, it’s quite invaluable. Taking care of clients is of the utmost importance to me. I want everyone I photograph to feel comfortable so they can let their guard down, and can actually be seen in the photographs I capture. I care about the people I am photographing, this is not just a transactional job for me. I show up early, stay late, and I work hard because I want my clients to love their images, and I want them to come back and keep coming back so I can document other stages of their life. I have some kids I have been photographing since birth, that are now entering middle school, and I have couples who I photographed their weddings, their maternity pictures, and now their family photographs with their kids. Watching these relationships, family and kids grow up, is one of the coolest parts of my job!
At the end of the day my goal with my clients is to create timeless images they will treasure now, and that will become family heirlooms for the next generation. As someone who has lost a child, I understand better than most, that images are never truly appreciated as much in the moment they are taken, as they are when they are all that remain of a loved one. I am so grateful for each and every picture I have of my daughter, they are priceless gifts that I am so grateful to have. And while it might have seemed expensive and inconvenient to set up family portraits at the time, and just being real, I am not a fan of being in front of the camera. I now realize you can’t wait, because you never get that time back, and if there is anything worth splurging on, it’s documenting time spent with the people you love most in this world. When I show up to wedding or portrait session, there is a sense of responsibility I feel to preserve a piece of my clients family history. It may not seem that significant at the moment, but with time I believe it will be. I look back at photos of my own wedding 14 years ago, and I see my grandparents, and my husbands grandfather, and our friends Spencer and Andy who Cancer took to soon, and my heart is deeply grateful to Sissi, my photographer who documented it all for me.
So while I may not be much of a “business person”, I have to remind myself of what I AM… a storyteller, a legacy keeper, and a detail oriented observer, who cares deeply about my clients! This is Me, it’s what I have to offer, and this is why I do what I do. It’s not just my business, it’s piece of my heart. Photography is my attempt at using the talents I have been given, to serve others in a meaningful way that I hope will live on long after I am gone. If you have entrusted me with doing this, THANK YOU, and if this is what you are looking for in a photographer, I would love to work with you!
Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to learn a little more about me and my approach to photography. What do you think makes a good business owner? I would love to hear what you value and look for in the businesses you choose to work with, so feel free to share below.
Photo above my dear friend, and frequent second shooter Angelica Yim.