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.