First things first:
HAPPY 2018, Y'ALL!
We did it! We made it! It's a new year! WOOOOOO!
Okay. On to the next item of business. This is not a fun blog post, but it is a necessary one. Apologies in advance for a lack of adorable humans or momentous occasions.
Y'all, I got burnt out. Hardcore.
The goal of 2017 was momentum - to create more work and to run in to more play (specifically travel). Boy, oh boy did that goal get utterly smashed. Actually, I went a little overboard. Okay, a lot overboard. I took well over 100k images, I worked with over 100 families and couples, I visited 12 countries, I made countless new friends and saw so many incredible things - and that all looks absolutely amazing on paper.
In reality, it left me a hot mess. I'm sure a fair few of you don't know this, but I run two businesses - this fabulously fun photography one, and the less-creative but more sustaining family flooring company that I took over a few years back. I received a Minority Business Enterprise midway through 2017, and I've been prioritizing ways to give back with that title (can I get a heck yes to programs to train ladies in to opening installation crews?!). Yes, I am fully aware that I am a part of the side-hustle generation, but two full-time jobs don't really leave a lot of room for...well, much of anything. I spent the entire year chasing my own tail in regards to keeping up with my workload, and then running away from it entirely in the trips I took out of the country. Never mind having much of a social life, working with the volunteer organizations I love, or taking care of myself physically or emotionally - I went full tilt workaholic, and it totally bit me in the ass. Towards the very end of 2017, I was doing about 12 sessions a week, and all I wanted to do was hide in a hole far away from any and all things involved with this job.
Don't get me wrong, I am so incredibly thankful and endlessly glad for all of the amazing sessions and clients that I have gotten to work with in the last calendar year, full stop. It never ceases to humble me that people want to pay for my vision and work. But this path? This is not a sustainable trajectory that I am on - not for clients, and not for myself. So, this next year is going to bring some big changes with it.
The goal for 2018 will be balance - less will be more. And yes, right off the bat, that means a more limited availability for shooting. Let's face it, photographers are a dime a dozen. Literally - there are well over two dozen photographers on just this tiny little island that I live. And that's actually just peachy! It's time to focus on fitting in to the niche I've made with my fine art background and unending dad jokes and wherever-the-wind-takes us approach to shooting. Despite wearing the title of Overeager People Pleaser To The Max, I've learned to accept and make peace with the fact that I simply cannot fit everyone's budget or style or personality.
With this shift comes the aim of bringing a bigger and more intentional interaction with each and every customer, specifically working towards creating the perfect family heirlooms from images. After all, I became a photographer because of how truly precious physical photographs are to my own conception of my family's history. I edit my images specifically to be hung, thumbed through, cherished, and loved, and so very many of my clients have never ordered a single print from their sessions.
On top of deliberately spending more time educating folks on the entire process of creating beautiful physical pieces, start to finish, I want to handwrite letters and send snail-mail to everyone. I want the space to plan and brainstorm and get creative on new levels. I want the most memorable, biggest, brightest, best versions of every client, and for every shoot to be special. And so, less will be much, much more.
In that same vein of a narrowed scope, I will also be happily limiting my hours of communication. Instagram, Facebook, SMS messages, Twitter DMs, e-mails, and voicemails hit me almost around the clock. Accessibility is great, and I'm glad there are so many ways for folks to find me, but I'm also finding a dire need for a little radio silence for at least a few hours.
See that? I literally have a timer on my business' Facebook page that wants me to answer messages within moments so I can look more accessible to the public. That's bonkers, so we're saying bye-bye to FB expectations.
Answering texts at 11 p.m. on a weeknight is absolutely not conducive to a healthy work/life balance. When you are your own HR department, no one tells you it's okay, no - scratch that, that it's necessary to completely disengage from work for at a small portion of your week.
It sounds a little counterintuitive to push back while trying to connect in a more meaningful way to my business, but here we are. Less complete-and-total-overload-ah-mah-god-I-can-barely-function feelings, more beers-underwater-in-foreign-countries-kinda-vibes.
Thanks to everyone who has been patiently waiting for updated pricing and info on shoots - that'll be out at the end of this week/early the following. And hey! Seriously - happy, happy 2018. Wishing everyone a little more balance and a lot more love in the next 360-some days.