September 15, 2017
This blog post is a long time coming and it’s one that I feel very passionately about. We all know that behind passion can sometimes be a little sass. So let me start off by stating this. This blog post is one from my personal experience and my personal views. It is not meant to offend anyone and not everyone may agree and I am ok with that!
When I first started my business I was always told “money is money.” You take what you can get (aka who wants to book you) and don’t complain. Ok… fair enough. I believed it at first. I took any genre of photography client that came my way and every job I could. Now in the beginning of your business I think this is a really healthy practice. Not because you need the money (although maybe it doesn’t hurt), but more so because it is letting you explore all different areas of photography and see which ones you prefer. All while letting you practice and help you learn how to better operate your camera, pose and interact with clients and so many other valuable lessons that come with practice and the growing stages of your business (and I mean are you ever really done growing).
But while I was exploring all areas of photography and the different genres I realized something CRUCIAL. Some sessions made my heart beat a little bit faster. Some sessions I was racing home to edit sneak previews because I had to show the world right away the work that made me so proud to attach my name to it. I also noticed that if I clicked with a client more, if we were laughing, joking and felt like friends by the end of the session that I was more eager to share, post and put time into what I was doing. My favorite photographer ever Kayla Coleman once said to me, “if you weren’t getting paid at all, would you still do it?” And that is the crucial question here.
See no one (that I know anyways) gets into owning a small business or becomes a creative entrepreneur because its easy, fast money that comes in by the piles. They get into this career (myself included) because the art is what makes them happy. Creating gives them a joy they had been missing or some sort of deeper or happier value than just cash in a bank account.
We are in a service industry, but more importantly one where we interact with our clients during the most important moments of their lives. Whether its to celebrate a transitional phase between the completion of high school and the shift to college. Or maybe it’s the season of their life where they get to marry their best friend and begin a life together. Maybe it’s the start of a new family and bringing a child into the world. It could be a family session to capture exactly what stage they are in during this life. WHATEVER it may be (and sorry this is specifically photography related because I know this applies to many other creatives) it holds value and importance to them. Which in return, holds value and importance to me.
If we took every session that came our way because “money is money” than quite a few (not so good) things would happen. One, we would likely become burnt out at a very speedy pace. Two, we would be cheating those clients out of an experience WORTH having. The experience of connecting with your photographer. The experience of holding these memories even closer than before because you feel like every image truly speaks to the emotion of the moment. And three, our work would be minimal effort. It would no longer be about the beautiful moments and the beautiful people, but it would become about the cheating time so we could squeeze in more sessions simply for the money.
I’ve fought this phrase way too many times to count and I know I am not done fighting it. But I know the next time someone tells me “money is money” that I can stand behind my clients, behind my work and confidently say I am ok being poor if it means being happy. I am ok with a four figure paycheck if it means giving my clients my all. I am ok with a simple lifestyle if it means never losing my love for this industry, for this job and for being a creative.
Money is not just money.