This is the first official post of Lumina’s Musings and I hope it won’t be the last you read! I’ll begin by explaining what my aim is here… why yet another blog by yet another person hoping to garner another following as they gab about photography? In short… just who do you think you are, anyway?
I am a person who decided in July to give in to the voices of so many people telling me: “You should do this as a business.” “You should open a business.” “Your work is so great, you should be selling it.” “You do amazing work… you should open a business.” And no, it wasn’t all my mother telling me these things – but friends (and some family) for whom I’d done portrait work. It’s like having a giant ear worm, but instead of music, it’s everyone telling you why not being a professional is just a giant personal loss.
I’ve been into photography for a very long time, lights and cameras and beautiful shots make me giddy… but never considered it seriously as a “hobby” until about 2014. In 2015 I got my trusty Rebel T5i on the recommendation of a “real” photographer friend of mine, and I started taking pictures. Frankly, I wanted to cry most of the time because I couldn’t get anything stunning out of that little black box. I put it away for a while.
Okay, okay. I hear it already: “not another long story about how puppies inspired you.” I give in… (though human faces inspire me, not puppies). I started buying gear. Oh yes, Xrite Color Checker, targets, cheap flashes, tripods, stands, reflectors… if someone told me it would make my photography amazing, I bought it. Boy… if only I knew then what I know now. I’m sure you can imagine my chagrin when I realized that my photos still looked like crap… slightly better crap than when I had nothing, to be sure, but still… I just couldn’t crack the code.
I was watching a video – because by this time I’d decided maybe B&H talks were the way to gain mastery (and boy did I take notes) – when one of the presenters said something so simple it sliced right in between my eyes and buried itself in my brain: “Invest in this (points to head) before you invest in anything else.” How was it, that a college educated human being could possibly have forgotten that very basic thing? Not only college educated, but a professed bibliophile who has written a novel? I don’t know either, but that was exactly what had occurred.
My husband was suddenly turning red as I bought every single book I could get my hands on – and not just educational in terms of teaching the basics, but Steve McCurry, Vivian Maier, Gregory Heisler. I read (and examined) like a demon – not only buying books, but getting everything my library had to offer. I bought courses on Kelby One, watched B&H videos by the pros, and practiced my rear end off.
Then… I did the unthinkable. I actually thought I was good enough to start a business. Now… caveat here… I absolutely went to school for business. I have an associates in business administration, it was my minor to my English major. I have opened businesses before… which is why when everyone started lauding the work and pushing that direction, I ABSOLUTELY DUG IN MY HEELS. ‘No way,’ I told myself. ‘That is WAY too much work.’ (Not to mention in all my reading, there were plenty of people who said: “Don’t ever go pro if you love photography.”) Still, bit by bit, I warmed to the idea. I thought about it, knowing that I wanted to help earn money for my family. To contribute and not be a moocher… there’s an idea.
Ho-lee-smokes. I didn’t realize that I wouldn’t just fly off into the skies and be earning five figures. I didn’t realize how much more of a moocher I was going to become – using my husband’s funds to buy web hosting, domain names, equipment upgrades, t-shirts, business cards, insurance, etc. etc. etc. I didn’t realize just what it meant to sit with an Excel spreadsheet to figure out what price I needed to charge to make any profit, nor just how daunting all those formulas would actually be.
What in the world was I thinking?!
Well… I’ll tell you what… I was thinking that somehow this would turn into magic. And do you know what? In my first month of opening – I was placed on a high-ranking agency’s list of recommended photographers (I’ve been requested not to name them publicly). I have had six clients who have been delighted with what they’ve gotten. I’ve watched my two teens each make 100 dollars off of the shoots they helped me light and run, and heard the tales of their friends being amazed that they work for their mom in photography. I’ve watched what happens to a family when they come to a shoot stressed and nervous, then have them goofing off by the end and delivering the most welcoming of smiles. I’ve mooed like a cow so loud for a shy six-year-old that people in the park turned to look and she cracked up laughing. I’ve sweat to the point I’ve lost weight, I’ve ached to the point I nearly crawled to bed, I’ve had every panic attack known to man. I’ve spent HOURS in my chair editing photos until all I saw in my dreams were pores and that one guy in the background I didn’t notice when I shot the pic. I’ve made myself sick worrying that the shoot wouldn’t turn out the right way: what if I’m not good enough, what if I do it wrong, what if I forget, what if they hate it, what if I shouldn’t be doing this – I shouldn’t be doing this… this is crazy, this is so much work, this is so hard, I want to cry but I don’t have time because I have to get xyz finished and send an email to abc and, and, and… you get the picture.
I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Okay, maybe I would make it easier, but I suppose if it were easy everyone would be doing it and there’d be no reason to fight for it.
I am new to the business of photography. Very new. Barely a month old. But the reason I’m here, the reason I decided to add yet one more responsibility onto the pile of responsibilities is this… I know I’m not the only one. Someone, whenever they get to this, will read this post feeling absolutely the pits, or not good enough, or not on top of it enough, or… just like they are alone. I wanted to start this blog for those folks… not the ones who want to know about the latest gear, or the best photo trends… but those who need a little boost to the ol’ self esteem. No, I’m not the only one doing it. I’m one voice among many, but hopefully this one voice can lend a little humor to a very scary, daunting, and overwhelming process.
I hope I can count on you to keep coming back and maybe we’ll all get through this together.