If you can believe it, this Fall will mark twelve (12!!) years of Justin & I being full time in our business…
… but I can still remember those early days as if it were yesterday.
I can remember the struggle. I can remember the hunger. I can remember wanting it so bad I could taste it. I can remember buying that oversized champagne glass from Michael’s craft store to fill with Hershey’s chocolate at our bridal show booth and thinking it was the most sophisticated brand idea. Ever.
And when I think back on those days, more than a few times I’ve WISHED there was someone back then who could have pointed us in a better direction. Things I now WISH I would’ve known when we were first getting started…
If I could go back and talk to the me of the first few years of our business, I would say things like…
1) Dear J&M, a giant oversized champagne glass of Hershey’s chocolates (hugs AND kisses) at a bridal show is NOT sending the high end message you think it is. And while we’re at it, there are FAR better ways to find your BEST clients than this.
2) That’s because the way your clients find you, TRAINS them on how to think about you. And this is just making them think that “a photographer is a photographer is a photographer” and they’re all the same. So they should just find the one who is offering the best deal.
3) Be SURE to keep your first business card. You will go to extraordinary lengths to find it just so you can laugh at it one day.
4) Super glue. Carry it with you at ALL times on a wedding day. Trust me on this, there WILL come a day when you need it.
5) While I’m at it, the silver 3M Command hook. We carry it with us to every wedding, so we can hang the dress on something classy when there’s nothing else around.
6) In this world there are speakers and there are teachers. There are “celebrities” and there are leaders. Spend your time with the teachers and the leaders, they won’t lead you wrong. And if you aren’t sure of the difference, just ask your gut. It always has a way of knowing.
7) Apples and water are an absolute necessity on a wedding day. The best day of someone else’s life is no time to get “hangry” (when you’re so hungry you’re angry) or “tirrational” (when you’re so tired you’re irrational).
8) Social media can be a scary, lonely place. But keep writing. Keep showing up. Pour your heart into it. Always be honest. And make it a way to serve others. The rest will work itself out.
9) Comparison will steal approximately 11,622 hours of your one wild & precious life as you chase this dream. Just agree to stop doing that right now, ok? Stop comparing your beginning to someone else’s best chapter.
10) Always, always make room at the table for someone else. There is no cool kids table. And the people who think there should be will eventually find themselves sitting alone.
11) Make a sample book and leave it at your favorite venue. That $400 investment has turned into approximately $65,000 in revenue for us over the past few years. Seriously, what are you waiting for?
12) Learn to get comfortable being uncomfortable in this business. The more uncomfortable you are, the closer you are to the next big chapter.
13) Open your hand. The BEST things that will happen your business will NOT be the things that you cherry picked off the checklist of someone else’s dreams & what success is supposed to look like. The BEST things have always been the things that were far too big & amazing for you to even dream of yourself. God loves to surprise you like that & He has far better things in store. Stop holding on so tight to how you think it SHOULD be and open your hand.
14) And finally, while we’re at it, go LIVE your life. Sit on the front porch with a glass of wine, watch more sunsets, take long drives (for fun!) in the car, pet your dog more, chop basil and make homemade soup, decorate a corner of your world, spray the smell of lavender on your sheets, have long breakfasts in bed, sit in a cafe in a strange new corner of the world and watch in wonder, choose adventure, eliminate the word “Can’t,” write things on bucket lists and watch each and every one of them come true. And every single second of your day never ever forget….you could be sitting in an office somewhere right now getting yelled at for using too many exclamation points.
These years ahead will be some of the hardest, but most beautiful, rewarding, fulfilling, adventurous, heart-filling years of your life.
You are SO lucky that this is the path that is laid out in front of you. Push the button friend. And be thankful every time you do. For this camera will open up the whole world.
You’ve got this.
***PS: we have been HARD at work over here getting ready to bring you something really THIS next week! We hinted at it a couple months ago, and tomorrow we FINALLY get to tell you! Stay tuned!