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The First Two Years of Business

March 19, 2014 - Business, Photography

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BUSINESS

PHOTOGRAPHY

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Dear Jasmine,
What were the first two years of being in business as a Professional Photographer like?
Kind Regards,
Inquiring Mind

Dear Inquiring Mind,
In my high school physical education class, it was required to complete a fitness test. Much like any other student, I hated the idea of being timed in front of my peers and I dreaded what was in store. On the day of the test, the gymnasium was set up like an obstacle course and students lined up for their turn. When I approached the first obstacle, I knew I'd have problems.

You see, I have no vertical hops. Like, none. No, really, I might have been born without a hamstring muscle or something because I can't even jump over a puddle. I'm not exaggerating. So you can just imagine my fear when I saw a three-foot box sitting in front of me, taunting me, and the teacher asked me to jump on it. I said no. He said I had to. So I jumped, but missed the top of the box entirely, but my shins managed to scrape the entire length of the wooden cube. My legs were so bloodied, I got an excuse to sit out for the rest of class.

So you want to know what my first two years of business felt like? Well, they felt like jumping that box: IMPOSSIBLE.

I had no formal photography education, so I had to teach myself.
I didn't have a computer, so I worked off a 12-inch laptop and a portable hard drive (editing each photo at a time).
I had to figure out how to get a business license, a DBA, and learn how to file business taxes (state and federal).
I didn't have a website, so I burned discs with my images on them and sent them to prospective clients (I mean, REALLY?!?)
I couldn't afford gear, so I just rented what I needed when I needed it.
I didn't know about exposure compensation and ruined almost every image when I second shot a wedding with a friend.
I needed to learn Photoshop, so I enrolled in a night class at a local community college.
I swore I had a broken speedlight, but later realized I didn't know how to use it properly.
I tried to make friends with photographers, but couldn't quite fit in (one went as far to accuse me of ripping off her business model).

I could go on, but I'll save you the dramatic details and simply say it was harder than anything I'd done. In my life. However, unlike the box I had to jump in high school, I couldn't make excuses as to why I couldn't make my dream of being a photographer a reality. It was either I made it happen, or I go back to my desk job or reenrolling in law school (both options made me sick).

In addition to grappling with reality, I made mistakes…some clients didn't hire me…coordinators cancelled their meetings with me…photographers said nasty things about me…I wasn't shooting the type of images I wanted. But I kept on moving because it was the only thing I knew how to do. Stopping meant I lost, stopping meant I had to sit on the sidelines and watch others jumping on the box of their dreams and moving on.

Jump Higher,
j*

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FREE PRODUCTIVITY PLANNER

Life is about to get a whole lot easier.  

Desperate for change, I created a Productivity Planner to help streamline my workflow and I kissed stress goodbye. 

[With cherry flavored chapstick.]  

FREE INSTAGRAM GUIDE

Oh, friend, it's time to start growing your business on Instagram.
  
Sign up to receive a free Instagram marketing guide, helpful tips, and free stock photos you can use for your business.  

It’s basically an Instanote sent to your inbox to help push you toward your social goals and help grow your following.

FREE STOCK PHOTOS

You're busy, pulled in lots of directions, and trying to run a business. 

In addition to all this, you know you should be posting on social media, so how do you balance it all? 

I'm dedicated to your success, so download five free stock photos to use online...I hope this empowers you to attract dream customers along the way!

I wouldn’t say we were business nerds but my husband just sent me a Slack message asking me to call him.

If you need me, just follow the trail of empty La Croix cans around my house.

"Margaritas make me sound smarter, dance better, sound amazing, and look like Shakira...