Let me tell you a story.

Earlier today, I shared a piece of my heart on my personal Facebook page. I’ll share it here, too:

“After having a late night heart-to-heart with a close photographer friend of mine, it’s tempting to shut down my Facebook page. Now, realistically, that probably won’t be happening… not in the near future, anyway… but I will be making some shifts and changes over time. Too much of this industry is focused on popularity on social media. Quite honestly, I think that is exactly why there are so many “pop up photographers”. Everyone wants that instant gratification of being “liked”. When did photography become a popularity contest? Why is it about likes? 
It’s about MEMORIES. It always has been and it always should be. 
Now let me tell you something… I will be the first to admit that I’ve felt a little down about myself and my work because, for example, I thought that a certain photograph was worth so much more than 60 likes. And that’s the thing… IT IS… to the people it should. It’s so much more personal than that number. It’s so much more personal TO ME.
Some are probably thinking… Taylor, you are providing a service, you need that page! But the thing is… I’m providing more than a service. At least I hope so, anyway. This is something that has been on my heart for while… Because I can tell in an instant when someone walks into my studio if they consider me a service or if they consider me their PHOTOGRAPHER… A human being who pours her heart into every single click of the shutter. A person who LOVES the kids she’s photographing as much as she loves the craft itself… Someone who would give her own blood to make sure that the beautiful essence of a family is captured, framed, hung, and ADMIRED for YEARS. And I would. I so would.
To all of my photographer friends, I encourage you to think about if your business would survive if Facebook shut down. Are you giving in to this popularity contest? Is your heart where it should be? Just think about it.”

——

I received a pretty overwhelming response to that post. Mostly client love, but some photographer love as well… until my heart broke upon reading a message from an aspiring photographer. She was hurt at my use of the words “pop-up photographer”. She kindly asked me to remember where I came from… which hurt me, deeply. She misunderstood. That is not who I am and that is NOT what I stand for. I explained to her that my use of the term “pop-up photographer” was not meant to offend her. When I used the term, I was referring to the people who enter this industry with the intention of abusing the craft. A craft that I love… a craft that is my heart.

I began my business at 15… my first camera costed me $300, which I had to pay my parents all back. My equipment was called unprofessional. I charged $25 per session, which was called unprofessional as well. And I was beaten down by nearly every photographer I followed. I was a “fauxtographer” (absolutely despise that term). It’s very difficult to follow a dream when your idols tell you to stop… but I made a decision. I kept going.

I continued doing sessions for $25, disc included. Getting my name out there was my main priority… and when I did… boy, look out. About a year and a half later, I was able to raise my session fee, and that is when things really exploded. I’ve just sorta climbed from there… and I still have a long, long, long way to go.
I am reminded every single day of where I came from… how? Well for a few reasons…

1. I still hold many of the same insecurities that I had in my first year of business. They are not as strong, but they are there.
2. I have held onto many of my clients from my first year— total blessing.
3. I know what it feels like to be pushed back. I know how discouraging and ugly this industry can be… I have experienced it first-handedly. And I have always said, from day one, “if I make it, I’m going to make sure others make it too”.

My message back to her (which was very similar to everything I just shared with you) actually moved her to tears. I inspired her. Here was her response:

“I’m a freaking crying mess right now! I’m so glad I’m an over reactor and whiner and wrote you. I guess it was all just building from the last few months of negativity. I’m sorry, so sorry! And thank you so very much for sharing this with me. It means the world. Truly will cherish this email forever.”

So… I wanted to share my story with you. In hopes to inspire you as well… In hopes that you lessen the power you feed to your fears and insecurities.  In hopes that you stop giving power to any person (whether that be another photographer or just a friend) who may have made you feel inferior or unable.

This is YOUR business, YOUR life, and YOUR dream.

So what are you waiting for? MAKE IT HAPPEN.

——

Here are some of my very first photographs… from those $25 sessions. I’m not ashamed of them. In fact, it’s the quite opposite; I absolutely adore them. Because when I look at them, I don’t see what you might notice. I don’t see the high contrast, or off white-balance, or loss of focus. I see the LOVE I had for photography… the love that led me to where I am today.

xo

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  1. Toni C. says:

    Taylor..that was just what I needed to hear tonight. As I sit here editing, knowing that I need to get up at 5am for my “day job”… wondering if this makes sense. I keep doubting and asking myself… why at 46 am I doing this to myself?! lol. But the truth is…I knew at a very young age that I needed creativity and art in my life to be happy. I had two of my beautiful sons in my early 20s and had to put my happy aside a bit. So,I gardened… and wrote poetry…and dreamed & then my husband bought me my 1st DSLR for my 40th birthday and my world opened up. This has become my passion, my art:) So,I keep learning, and I keep shooting… and there are days of doubt but mostly, it consumes me and I love giving the gift of moments to those people that ask me to photograph their lives. thank you for the reminder… and don’t shut down your page. I love it! and you inspire me!! hugs!

  2. Tisha Matson says:

    I have only been following you for a short time now, but I am sooo glad I found you. It is hard to find photographers that will give me the time of day. It is just so competitive! Many of your recent posts have motivated me to keep editing on nights that I just want to relax, after a long day at work. I hope that one day I will be as good as you! It is my dream to do this full-time! How does the saying go? Love your job, and never work a day in your life!? Something like that 🙂

  3. Vicki Randolph says:

    Taylor, thank you for sharing….your photography, your heart and your soul…..you are an inspiration.

  4. kasey purtee says:

    I now am crying too lol! It has always been my dream to be an awsome photographer and my father has always pushed me to fulfill my dreams. He gave me my first camera and told me to get out there and do it. Although I am no professional I very pleased to provide friends amd family with photos and have met new people along the way. I understand about the whole facebook thing. I look back on pictures I have taken amd smile cause I know that it has brought a smile to my face and theirs cause I did that for them. U a great photographer don’t ever forget that and we all need to take a step back and not forget that its not a competition its learning from eachother amd ourselves. It should be about capturing the memories and not padding your “likes”.

  5. Shawna says:

    I have yet to find another person as wholesome as you! You are an idol. As an aspiring photographer I was offended but after this post I understand now. My photography is not my first priority at this moment, my 9 month old is. She’s a hand full alone and adding a business would make me go bonkers. Things are slowing down so my camera is coming out more and more. Yes it’s hectic, the negativity gets to me and sometimes stings so bad I cry. But I love it, I love my camera, I love the memories I can make.
    Your an amazing young woman.

  6. Dawnya says:

    I so needed this post. I have been in business for a year and half and still struggling. I have no marketing skills or budget. I am sure other photographers have looked down on me, and as such, I am reluctant to ask for help from anyone. I am in a group where I ask general questions, but nothing like how to market or SEO, which is a foreign concept to me. I absolutely love to take photos, I love to please people, but most importantly I love to capture those little moments in time. I love creating memories for someone and the look of joy on their face when they see their photos in print. I was recently told my print pricing was underselling myself, and I am sure I should be charging more, and I am on the fence. I want to give back, I would love to give free sessions to the local families who can not afford professional photos even at the low end of the scale,
    but I am not financially able to do so. So I may need to raise my print prices also, to be able to make a living and fulfill my dream of helping out those less fortunate than me. It is a constant internal struggle. I was feeling beat up and discouraged, then after reading this, I realized I didn’t get into photography to get rich, I got into photography because I have a passion for it, I live and breathe photography, but I need to at least make enough to help support my family. So for now I keep plodding along, and hopefully soon, I will get busier.

  7. Sherri Mouland says:

    <3 <3 <3

  8. Ashley says:

    Recent follower/fan [today!]. I use Facebook [and my blog] as a mini-scrap book. It’s where I get a lot of my clients from, but I don’t stress about the “likes”. I post for my clients so that they can share with their friends if they’d like, but I spend most of my web energy on my blog. I have an album on my Facebook business page called “one per session from the very beginning” where I have one photo from every single session/wedding I’ve ever done. I want people to see where I came from and how far I’ve come [and I want to see for myself sometimes!]. We all need a reminder that although we’re always growing and striving for more, we have already come so far! I love this post!

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