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Welcome to the first episode of the Photo Business Help podcast. My name is Natalie Jennings, and I’m looking forward to beginning this journey with you.
I want to share something a little vulnerable first: I’m having a little trouble finding my voice with this thing. I know that with practice and consistency I’ll find my flow and, hopefully, sound more and more like myself. But bear with any cheesy weirdness you hear, especially if you know me.
The title of this episode is “Blinders On, Heart Open” because I felt it was important to start with something that could work for a large group of people, regardless of your industry. I’ve been a professional photographer for almost a decade, and if there’s one thing certain in the photo industry, it’s saturation.
I used to be a high school English teacher, so I take a little bit of joy in dropping the occasional, unapologetic pun.
Seriously, though. It’s a saturated industry. There are a TON of photographers out there. And a TON of really dedicated, really talented photographers out there.
What if you’re new to an industry where it seems like the market can’t handle anyone else?
Let’s look at a few things that new photographers, or creatives in any saturated industry, MUST consider when setting out to build their business.
Does it light you up?
This is important because building a business takes some doing. There are great days and awful days. Some part of the process MUST light you up. I believe being driven by passion creates better, and more creative results. I know a lot of us want a paycheck, and that’s part of things, too. But does this light you up? In other words, would you do it for free?
Google wasn’t the first search engine.
And this is very true. Wordstream.com has a great timeline article on the history of search engines if you want to geek out for a little while. So why is this relevant? Because it’s a common reaction I see in a lot of my clients to want to stand out, and to feel discouraged when so many other people are doing great things.
This is normal.
But just like google, you can persist and build something that lasts. Consistency and clarity (something I’ve covered on the blog and will no doubt cover here) are so important. A lot more people than you think give up right before they are about to make it. If it lights you up, and you have clarity about where you want to go, there’s space for you out there, too.
We all have different gifts.
There may be a lot of creative people out there: writers, musicians, photographers, etc. but the reason so many people are able to make a solid living from their craft is in our nature: we’re all built a little differently. I could give 10 photographers a camera and a subject, and they’d all shoot a little differently. In post production and editing their style would diverge even more. And there’s someone out there that wants you and what you bring to your business. You might have a gift for putting people at ease at a wedding, or for beautiful portrait edits, or for efficiency and organization. Figure out what you love, what your gifts are, and own them.
Be so good they can’t ignore you.
Steve Martin was credited for this one, and it’s a powerful reminder of what really works in business. You have passion, a direction, your own personal talents…but are you sharpening the knife?
What ultimately makes the difference between sinking and swimming is consistency and dedication to your craft. Your craft is the whole thing. Your skill as a photographer. You protocol for interacting with clients. Your website copy. All of it. Your brand is an extension of YOU, so be so good they can’t ignore you. Work at it. Refine it. You’re doing just that by listening today, so that’s pretty cool.
Blinders On, Open Heart.
What does it mean to put blinders on? It means to remind yourself every single day that what you bring to the table is your own, and it’s valuable. And it’s improving. STOP comparing yourself to others, especially if it makes you feel shitty.
If you start feeling that low energy creep in as you’re scrolling someone’s awesome website. STOP IT. Snuggle your cat. Get a yummy cup of coffee. Go sit in the sun for 5 minutes. Just stop any behavior that makes you feel lower than when you started. It’s more powerful than you think when negative thought patterns start to grab at you. More on that later.
Put the blinders on and open your heart. Be receptive to new opportunities. Say yes to something new. Start a new conversation or reach out to someone who really inspires you. Relax. Let the current take you and keep doing your best work.
So, whatever you’re planning or growing or setting out to do, put your blinders on to what others are doing around you. How far they might or might not be. It’s none of your business. Your business is being so good at YOU and your craft that they can’t ignore you. Your job is to open your heart to all of the possibilities right in front of you.
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Consistency is key.
Until next time, love & light.
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