Well, the time I was waiting for came and went in a flash! Like so many other aspects of my life, I felt like there weren't enough hours in the day. I know this could be sort of boring, so I would like to break this post into bite sized chunks about why meeting with a well known and loved professional really has changed my perception of what I do, and how our meeting was beneficial to me.
1. I got to see what a session was like for another photographer
This might seem strange to some (or maybe commonplace to others), but I have very little experience working with other family and newborn photographers. When I say very little, I mean ZERO real life, practical experience . Everything I have learned comes from hundreds (nay, thousands) of hours watching and reading both online and off. Creative Live has been my primary source of education and I'm so thankful to the talented individuals that have taken the time to share their knowledge through such an easily accessible resource, and that Creative Live even exists. Physically being with Julia and watching that she has a very "normal" way of interacting with clients gave me a sense of belonging-- that as a photographer, I was not just one of a sea of many, but a collective PART of many. I felt like my struggles could easily have been hers at one point, and the that all photographers must have similar experiences to mine. I'm not sure why it never hit me before, but this really was almost an epiphany of understanding-- like an AHA moment of clarity and connection. I don't feel so alone anymore.
2. Tips and Tricks
A benefit of actually meeting with Julia was getting small tips and tricks to use in my own business. Things I hadn't considered that ranged from the positioning of baby on a beanbag, to how the light falls on a scene, and everything in between.
- How to start doing market research
- What to think about when evaluating your market
- Ways to differentiate myself and be true to my ideas, visions, and inner artist
- Which artists and business owners influence and inspire her
- Things she likes to do to recharge
There weren't any topics that weren't open to discussion, and she made it a priority to help me however she was able. I really appreciate that she was an open book and gave me direct, honest feedback about not only my work, but business practices that I am (now) in the process of refining. I am now listening to Podcasts (PODCASTS) thanks to this lady (which is amazing, I might add), since I spend so much time in the car. This is definitely one way to do more with my limited time, and I hadn't even considered it previously-- maybe this isn't mind blowing, but it is a very practical suggestion that I am thankful for.
3. Having an outside professional's objective perspective for my plans
It was nice to have a well known and respected photographer review my website, the current market I'm in, and what my current processes are so that I can make tweaks and revisions. One of the most frustrating things I find about being a photographer is that I am so isolated-- I am blessed with a select few amazing photographer friends, but I don't have a great local network of others to rely on or rally with (no, this isn't a pity party, just the plain old truth). I also am blessed with an amazingly supportive husband, but let's face it -- his idea of what is best for a photography business might not, in all actuality, be what is best for it. Together, Julia and I put together an actionable list of things I can update, change, and implement which was a breath of fresh air. I found it invaluable that she could take an objective look into what I am currently doing and ways that I can plan for my future growth. We never know what we don't know until someone points it out, and one thing I am going to try and work into my time table is joining Austin's PPA (Professional Photographer's of America) branch so I can start building that network that I am sorely lacking.
4. My future Growth as an Artist
It was pretty cool that, during my visit, there was a print competition going on (and we were able to tune in via the internet). This gave me the opportunity to review the excellent work that others submitted for competition, and elements that are being looked at for each piece. Julia was able to give me a quick rundown of the mindset behind the judge scoring, explain what things the judges would be looking for, and how competing affects not only how you edit images, but how you shoot them to begin with. One thing I've been toying with is going after my CPP (certified professional photographer) status. It involves not only a comprehensive written exam, but a portfolio submission, and also that you continue to actively learn within the photography community. Beyond this certification is the opportunity to obtain various degrees, which is where print competition comes in. This gives you the opportunity to expand your personal growth as an artist and also gain recognition for your work, which is something I am quite keen on for the future. I am not sure I would have understood the relevance of print competition had I not been afforded the opportunity to meet with her, and I'm thankful for this unexpected exposure!
There were many more moments of clarity during my brief visit to Bend Oregon (this place is amazing, btw) and I would consider writing them all down except that would make for a really boring and long blog post, and it would give away all my plans! As much as I love transparency, I love to surprise and delight people more, so you will just have to hold your breath for the future of my business =)
All my love, and thanks for reading!