I usually don’t do long, heartfelt, personal posts on my blog. In fact, I tend to keep a lot of my personal life out of my photography blog. So, this post is going to be a little bit different than what you are used to, but it is a very necessary posting. In fact, this is probably the most open and honest any of you have ever seen from me.
I’ll start off by saying that I love photography. I love being an entrepreneur and making my own decisions for my business. However, my original intentions for starting this business was not to see how much I could grow this business, how many people I could get to “Like” my business on Facebook, what awards or ratings I could get, how much money I could make, or how many sessions/weddings I could do in one year. I started this business with the intention of quitting my day job, doing something I love, and having the flexibility to stay at home with my kids.
Since I quit my day job nearly 4 years ago, I’ve watched my business not just grow, but take off faster than I could have expected it to. So fast, that before I realized it, my goals and priorities had changed. I was now stressed around my kids, trying to edit the wedding I just shot. Or, putting them in front of the TV, so I could get a few blog postings up or respond to a few emails. After last year (2009), I told myself I wouldn’t let myself be that busy again. Even though 2010 was improved from 2009, it was still much busier than I wanted to be. There were moments were I wished I didn’t have other business obligations so that I could just focus on being a mother. I began to dread having sessions. By the time October came around, I was so burned out, I could hardly breathe. Definitely not how I want to feel about the hobby I used to love and have a passion for, prior to turning it into a business.
Fast-forward to a week ago, where I believe in my heart, God intervened. In fact, I think it was a wake-up call, because it was the only way I would ever opened my eyes to the possibility of giving up my studio. I’ve had one since 2007 and love having a place to call my own. However, at the end of March, I will no longer occupy my current studio or any studio for that matter. When I came to that decision, I felt this weight lifted from my shoulders. I’m not starting out in the negative every month. I don’t feel the need to keep restocking my backdrops, props, hats, blankets, etc. I don’t feel like I need to overload myself every month in order to work my way back up to breaking even.
I think back to when I signed the lease on my first studio. I was petrified and thinking if I would be able to afford it. I was able to afford it, which was very exciting. Now, ironically, I find myself in a similar situation, giving up my studio. How many people won’t use my services, because I don’t have a studio? How much will it impact my business and clientele? At this point, these are risks I’m willing to take. If I find that it does have a drastic negative impact, I’ll have to reassess my need for a studio.
I’ve also realized that over the years, since I have had a studio, I have shifted away from the kind of photographer I truly am. I tend to not want to pose, stage, or dress up kids in the latest trends. My style is natural and documentary, and I hope to re-discover that style this year.
What does this mean to you? My pricing structure will be changing, since my current session fees are centered around shooting in the studio. Without a studio, my focus is going to shift to on-location and documentary-type photography sessions. I may end up renting out a studio space a few times a year, just to get my fix in and for people who really love photos in the studio. I definitely plan to do this at least once in November for Christmas photos and once potentially in the summer.
At the end of March, I plan on clearing out a lot of my props, backdrops, and furniture. I will hang onto a few favorites that I wouldn’t want to let go of or will still continue to use on-location, however I definitely don’t have room for all of the “stuff” I’ve collected over the years. I also have tons of prints of clients that I will sell back to those clients at a bargain price. I will email you directly if I have printed one or more photos of you or your family member. Look for more details on the sale within the next week or so.
Finally, with this new change in direction, I am going to set my sights on building a home studio above our garage. We really have a perfect set-up for building something like this. It’s actually what I’ve always wanted to do: build a studio the way I want it, the windows the direction I want it, the windows the size I want, etc. And, even better, it can be attached to my house. Since this would be a fairly expensive project, my hope is to have it done it within the next 3-5 years.
It’s going to be bittersweet, but also very liberating to see the bits and pieces of my studio sold when the time comes. I know in my heart this is the right direction I need to go, as drastic and as sudden as it is. It’s time to regain my time with my family and my love for photography, which has gotten lost in the business.
Please email me if you have any questions or concerns with this new change at firstname.lastname@example.org.