Of all of the things people spouted to me in 2010, one of those has been stuck in my head. “Your business is your baby, it’s needs your attention the most right now.”
This world is diverse, and thank god for it. We are all different creatures, different lifestyles and preferences. Some people don’t want kids, something although I completely respect I can’t fathom in my heart..I can’t imagine not welcoming children into my life. Even with Mike and our amazing love and relationship, I’d feel empty. Before giving advice (especially when someone hasn’t asked you for it) you MUST consider that that person may be completely different from you and that there is no ONE way of doing things. They are a different kind of human, with different goals and desires. When this person told me that my business was my baby..well, that didn’t work for me. I felt offended instantly and didn’t want to be, but I was. A BABY would be my baby. A human baby, my future child. Not my business. I LOOOOOVE my business and when I say love I mean I adore it with every fiber of my being, but being told to wait to start a family because I needed to grow my business? That just wasn’t an option to me. I can’t imagine growing those children later in life so that I could baby a business solely.
So because I started my business the year we got married and we wanted kids right away– that left one option for us. We do BOTH.
It was such a trial and error process, and no matter how many mentoring sessions, workshops, etc you sign up for..that is something that you have to accept as inevitable. You will learn what works for you while not even realizing that’s what you’re doing. You’ll be failing in many aspects and then winning when you figure out what you did wrong, what didn’t work, what you need to fix, etc. I thought for the longest time, for example, if I JUST had this certain kind of business organization software that my photographer friends use, I would be more successful. It does, after all, email your clients when payments are due. Well you know what? It didn’t work for me. Downloaded the trial, wasted 6 hours of my life trying to understand it and even if I did, I’m an Excel and Word doc kinda gal..simply put. I also love that cheap monthly planner of mine from Walmart that has marker and highlighter everywhere from my daughter drawing in it. Trial and error led me right back to the simplest form of organization.
Here are some of the ways we made it work the first two years while we had a new baby in our lives.
1. My equipment for the entire first YEAR looked like this:
Mark II (back then $2500)
50 1.4 ($399 — WONDERFUL quality and great lens!)
A used 24-105 from someone in a photography forum
Canon Rebel as a backup camera
Wow. That’s PEANUTS to most people! Compared to the intense amount of lenses and the two Mark IIIs I have now, I look at that list and think HOW did I do it? I did it with what I had because I had no choice. I made that list work for me. My first entire year of weddings, this is what I worked with. the 50 1.4 was on my camera 95% of every single wedding, and I made it work. It was rough sometimes but you work with what you have when you are taking every dime and putting it back into your business!
2. We didn’t vacation, we didn’t spend money on expensive purses, etc. We aren’t “I need that brand of this expensive stuff” kind of people because that’s just a status thing and we soooo don’t care about status. I didn’t have a real diamond wedding ring until LAST year– and our 4 year anniversary is this month! So when people are emailing me saying that they are sad they can’t afford the lenses and cameras I have and then they go on a 10 day cruise to the Bahamas..I do NOT feel sorry for them. Cold? No no, I don’t mean to be..but when you’re wearing a $50 pair of jeans with a $300 bag you just want because it says COACH on it and you are telling me I’m “lucky” I can afford all of that stuff? I can’t empathize. I can’t. We SAVED all that money for a year and by the following year, I had 2 Mark IIs, FIVE L series lenses and two flashes as wedding payments came in.
3. Breastfeeding…let me just tell you. It’s FREE. I looked a can of formula one time and just had myself a mini anxiety attack thinking of how much money that would have been the first year. I don’t think it costs that much to most people but we were SCRAPING for a long time, trust me. As frugal as it gets. I can promise you that we would not have afforded all those lenses. I know some people can’t do it, and that’s understandable..but I forced myself to chug massive amounts of water, take vitamins, pump between feedings and work on that milk coming in for AT LEAST a week! You know when mine came in with Cammy? FIVE DAYS after she was born. You have to give it time, and it’s hard..but they are not starving when they’re first born. They have the last meal you had still there so the colostrum is enough in the beginning. I know though some people can’t but hey, at least they tried! But you wanna talk about a huge money saver?
4. SCHEDULING EDITING. My biggest fail of the year when Cammy was new. I didn’t schedule my editing. November babies are tricky, because you’re winding down from wedding season but you’ve still got some here and there to work on. When the new wedding season approached, she was still little but out of her “sleep all day” stage. In the beginning– they sleep A LOT and you can get lotssss of work done. But then, they wake up. They get curious about life. And here comes all day interruptions. Interrupted work is not consistent work and risks images being edited differently, missing pieces of workflow and added stress to your plate. I am highly recommending getting a babysitter, a family member, your husband/wife, anyone..and getting into an environment where you can’t hear the baby if they cry and working there. And working SMARTER and not harder..meaning you are concentrating on actual work and switching off social media. I am telling you– it’s maddening to be in another room of the house trying to concentrate on an email or editing while your baby cries..you will run to the other room and grab them. And then who knows when that work will get done after that?
5. GO MOBILE! This is something I JUST did this year! Two babies later– I learned my lesson and thank freaking goodness. I exclusively work from a MacBook that I can not just answer emails on, direct social media on, etc..but I can edit on this one for sure. Retina display and a 17 in screen is enough for me to be able to take my editing out of the house and get it done! THAT helps immensely! Worth the investment and now after a CRAZY May and June and moving..I am turning around these weddings the way I want to!
I’m no pro. Trial and error is the story of my life and business. I have failed repeatedly but I have learned so much in the journey to get to where I am. I’m far from perfect, I’m even behind (in my eyes) on editing right now and it’s killing me, but I had to accept the move and busy season for what it was and just be glad I was consistent enough to BLOG my weddings in a speedy manor after the wedding, and that is a wonderful thing! But my business is made possible by the fact that I have been diligent in keeping a general workflow for myself, accepting HELP from others when I need it, we saved up and earned all of that equipment and this computer, and because I have an amazingly supportive husband who insisted I chase a dream and make it happen.
I can’t imagine not looking down into those beautiful blue and brown eyes every day. I can’t imagine not kissing the fattest cheeks and nom nom nomming on big beautiful baby thighs and hearing those sweet giggles from my girls. Watching Cammy love on her sister and sing to her, make her laugh. I can’t imagine CHOOSING to say no to a family because I’m too scared I can’t balance both. What kind of a fear is that really? Isn’t life short and precious and worth diving in head first for? Go make those babies if you have a piece of your heart missing waiting on the right time. There is no right time. It’s just now, friends. Ask Mike..he thanks me all the time for saying “let’s just do this” 🙂