Motivational Mondays: Trusting Yourself

“A bird sitting on a tree is not afraid of the branch breaking, because its trust is not on the branch, but on its wings.”

-Unknown

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Motivational Mondays: Sacrifices and Ambition

Many of you know I am on vacation in Nicaragua. I came unexpectedly for two reasons: to visit family and to see what the market is like out here for destination weddings. But sometimes we make plans that God ends up laughing at. I got sick with strep throat and had to stop what I was doing to stay home (with my grandma, aunt, and her family) and it was a major eye opener.

Living in a third world country is not easy for many. The opportunities are not around the way that we have them in the states. Yet there are so many of us that still complain on how bad we have it. It’s not until you get out and visit one of these countries that you realize how great you really have it.

I have cousins that have majored as engineers, architects, dentists, doctors, or finance majors and barely make $300 a month, yet we complain that we don’t have the latest trends. I have family members that ride the public bus every where they go with no a/c, yet we complain because our car isn’t a Mercedes or BMW. But one thing I know for sure is that I am so grateful to have the father I have.

My dad left the country when he was 20 years old. In search of better opportunities and because at the time Nicaragua was going through a war that he didn’t believe in and didn’t want to fight for. He moved to Honduras for 5 years and then to Miami. In Miami he worked at a Burger King to provide for my mom and me but not once did he regret leaving his country, he kept promising himself and my mom that he would one day become a computer programmer and he did.

That hunger and ambition was his drive. He had to make sacrifices and leave his country, language, parents, sisters, and family at a very young age to become what he wanted to become because he didn’t want to live a mediocre life. And that’s one of the things he has taught me. He’s always pushed me to find the one thing I love and never give up, to push it enough to where I perfect it and make it in life using my talents. But the most important thing he has taught me is to always put God above all things because He will help you through it all.

Maybe I’m a little homesick right now or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been watching a bunch of people living a not so great life that’s made me so thankful to be where I’m at – all thanks to one man that sacrificed and had the drive to better himself…

I want MY dad to be able to say that all his sacrifices were worth it because they got ME somewhere in life. THAT is enough for me to have that drive and ambition that he once had at 20 years old.

An Open Letter to “new” photographers

I quote “new” because I define myself as a new photographer too. I’ve been in the industry for 3.5 years compared to others that have been in it for 20+, but I can speak as a new photographer and tell you from my own experiences what to expect from people in the industry as a new photographer.

You can expect a lot of

eye rollings – when you ask for advice or post up photos of your recent work, that’s if you don’t get…

harsh criticism – sure, some people will critique your work, but be careful, some will critique it because they don’t want to see you succeed while others will critique you so that you may become better. Choose wisely. Those that want you to become better will be harsh and sometimes make you cry but it’s not until you start accepting that critique; that you will challenge yourself to become ten times better.

people not wanting to help – when I first started I reached out to many, some were very kind to respond back and others never did, some gave me links to courses that I could take while others let me assist and learn by being their shadow. And while I  was building my portfolio I got…

a lot of friends AND FAMILY wanting me to shoot them… for “FREE” – value your worth just because you’re starting out doesn’t mean you should work for free. I mean, think about it, nobody does, so why should you? Want to gain experience? Shadow someone, take some classes, ask around and when you feel like you’re good enough to charge, start charging. But don’t start off as a free photographer because people will get used to that. And then if they don’t want it for free you’ll get…

people asking for discounts – you will get PLENTY of these, some people will have stories that will touch your heart and you’ll want to help them while others just don’t value the price in their photographs as they’d much rather spend more on their dress and shoes than on the one thing that will last them forever. Once again, choose wisely who you’d like to help out. After all you’ve got bills to pay and you’ll spend…

lots of sleepless nights editing – you will spend hours and hours editing. And sometimes you’ll end up hating the outcome so you’ll stop one night, pick it up the next night and spend hours and hours editing only to see that you hate it even more the next night. It’s frustrating, it’s hopeless, but it will get better. But then you will make…

tons of mistakes – you’ll make plenty of these. A year later, five years later, ten years later you’ll still make them. It’s learning from them that makes you better. Your lighting will suck sometimes, your posing will make someone look “not so good”, and sometimes you’ll forget certain things. Just remember everybody makes them.

BUT here’s my advice to you, (again this is based on my own experiences)…

there are people out there that are willing to help – just don’t get mad if they don’t tell you EVERYTHING, lots of these people know what they know from all the struggles mentioned above. They got the eye rollings and the people not wanting to help out, they might’ve started their portfolio for free or very cheap, they spent lots of nights editing and still hated their work, and most of all they made mistakes. Lots of them. But they never gave up, they pursued it, educated themselves and invested a lot of time, sweat, and tears into their art – they expect you to do the same. They didn’t get things handed to them on a silver platter, they won’t hand it to you either.

educate yourself and invest your time and money into it – once again don’t expect everything to be FREE. You don’t like it when people want you to shoot them for free – other photographers don’t want to give all of their information for FREE. Put your money into it… if you’re really serious about it.

don’t be afraid to charge and when your portfolio is good enough it’s okay to raise your price – this doesn’t mean you should be charging an arm and a leg if you’re starting out especially without an established portfolio. It’s not fair to your clients. In order to run, one must first learn to crawl. Build yourself up. Create a brand for yourself. But once you’ve got an established portfolio and your work is “good enough” it’s okay to raise your prices. You’re perfecting your craft, investing money into your gear, and more time into your photographs your price needs to reflect your quality.

spend lots of sleepless nights editing – that’s how you’ll learn to edit better. It’s how you’ll see your mistakes. It’s how you’ll learn to shoot better so that you don’t have to spend a bunch of sleepless nights editing in the future.

and make your mistakes… – it’s how you’ll learn. I’ve shot more than 20 weddings in 2.5 years but with every wedding I learn new things and I make a mistake if not few. Those mistakes help me learn to do things differently at my next wedding. Those mistakes make me challenge myself. Those mistakes have made me better.

 

 

 

 

Motivational Mondays: 2014 Goals (2 days late)

With 2014 currently underway, I have been dedicating some time to myself as well as my business. Wedding photography can definitely take a toll on your body, especially with the amount of equipment we carry and how heavy it can get after a couple of hours, so it’s been time for me to hit the gym.

So now talking about some of the goals, here’s a list I’ve made of things I would like to accomplish in 2014!

1 – Get physically fit! Being skinny doesn’t mean you’re healthy, it just means you’re skinny, so I want to get FIT!

2 – book more weddings this year than I did last year

3 – Shoot in different cities (New York, Tennessee, North Carolina, those are a few of the ones on my list)

4 – participate in more bridal shows!

5 – meet interesting people and create lifelong friends!

6 – create more of a name for myself!

Motivational Mondays: Encouragement

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I read this quote today by Joel Osteen and it helped me realize how words have such a profound effect on people but so do your thoughts. I got stuck with the flu about two weeks ago and then got bronchitis and in those days of just resting I started to lose my vibe with my photography. But then last night after shooting a wedding I realized that I do it because I truly love it, because at the end of the night when I go back through all the photos I captured, I relive the moment and if I relive it that means my clients or in this case my friends will be able to relive it, as well.

But one thing that stuck out to me was that when I was sitting around with some of my friends at the wedding, one of the guys I graduated with kept telling me how amazing my photos are and how I should never quit doing it. I’m not going to lie, there are days when I want to just give it up but its words like those that encourage me to not stop, because I love it, and according to them it shows.

Simple words from your clients, friends and family can build you up or tear you down, but it’s also what you think about yourself that can have the same effect. Therefore, I realized I need to continue to build myself up, gain more confidence, and find the encouragement from within myself!

Motivational Mondays: Helping Others

One of the things I’ve learned within this industry is that people can be so selfish and arrogant sometimes. I personally can say that when I was starting out in photography I wanted to learn as much as I could and I came across plenty of people that were too greedy with sharing information, tips, and advice. I e-mailed a couple of people I looked up to, to offer my time to assist them and being their shadow in exchange of experience, many of those people said they weren’t looking for assistants and others just never even replied.

I sometimes wish photographers would realize “newbies” are not looking into stealing your clients they just want to learn. I was one of them and I STILL am. Just because I’ve been doing this for a few years, doesn’t mean I know everything, and I’m always wanting to challenge myself and learn more. Now, I don’t necessarily believe in Karma, but I do believe in doing Good for other people because God says we should in the Bible. I believe it’s His way of testing us and blessing us.

Two bible verses I love are Philippians 2:4 and Hebrews 13:16 I wish more people would go by these. Not just in the photography industry but in the world.

My advice to photographers starting out is to not get upset when another photographer isn’t willing to show you or share information. Some went to school for this and paid lots of money so they feel that if you want to learn you should do so as well, others are willing to just teach you because they understand your passion for it. Find the ones that want to help, there’s plenty of them out there, you just have to find the right ones.

Motivational Mondays: When you feel like giving up (a day late)

Last night, I opened up this window to begin writing my motivational monday blog post but for some reason the words just weren’t flowing through my fingers. I knew I wanted to write about when you feel like giving up, but I couldn’t write anything about it because I have days where I feel like giving up and the advice I give to others I don’t listen to, myself.

This morning, I woke up, went out and did some errands and when I came home I opened up my facebook. I came across a post from Browntography a photographer I follow not so closely; but close enough, to know how amazing her work is and her personality. Her post really made me sad, even though her business is not coming to an end, she is taking a break, a much needed one, but it’s still a break. And that’s when I realized I’m not the only one that wants to give up on the business. There were plenty of days when I felt like I was the only one going through the worst times and now I realize I’m not, and it doesn’t make me feel good, if anything it makes me feel worse. Only because I know Brownie (Kathy) started her business pretty much at the same time I did, along with other photographers that I know are going through a rough time.

People just don’t understand. They don’t know what it’s like to work a regular job and run a photography business. A photography business where you have to be a receptionist, secretary, bookkeeper, photographer, editor, deliverer, designer, negotiator, etc. It’s very hard to wear so many hats and people not appreciating the value of your work. The value of the memories you are capturing for them. The value of the heirloom you’re creating for their future family and kids. The value of you spending your weekends or days off from work to do these things FOR them. But then I remembered one of my favorite bible verses, Isaiah 40:31:

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

One of the things that has definitely helped me through the ups and downs of my business is my faith in God. Faith in believing He will not let me down, faith in knowing He will provide, and faith in trusting that He will give me the strength that I need.

I just like Brownie, had to take a break, not from my whole business, but from my studio work and it almost tore me apart even though I knew it was for the best. I knew it was very much needed and I knew that only good things would come out of it. So far my decision has not been regretted, because I know God has a much better plan for me than the one I could plan for myself.

Whenever you feel like giving up, on whatever it is that you’re going through, know that God will always have your back and that there’s a reason why He’s allowing you to go through these struggles. After all, when life brings you to your knees you’re in the perfect position to pray.

And as for artists; there will always be a gap… what matters is that you never quit…

Artists gap

Motivational Mondays: When you feel like you’re not good enough

In this industry, it’s easy to feel great about yourself and your photos and it’s also easy to have “down” days. There are so many people critiquing your images and the way you see things behind the viewfinder, but what matters is how you feel about it when you see your art.

One thing I have learned as a photographer is to build a tough skin. Not everyone will like my photos, not everyone will understand my photos, and not everyone will want to hire me as their photographer, and that’s ok!

Being a photographer means expressing myself, capturing the beauty in things the way that I see them; which may be different from the way others see it. A client may love my photo meanwhile I may hate it. At the end of the day I am my own worst critic.

As a perfectionist, I always feel like what I do is just not good enough, that it can be better. But it’s art.

The most important part about being a photographer is to create your own style. A style that YOUR clients will love and understand and that most importantly you will feel portrays who you are and who your client is.

I can definitely say that in three years I have learned that my style is based on emotion, love, and creativity. I want those clients that are emotional and that are very family oriented. I want that bride that will choose a beautiful song to dance to with their dad and will cry when their dad walks them down the aisle, that bride that has a strong connection with their mom and that you can see it when they’re putting their wedding dress on and their mother is helping them. I want the type of groom whose eyes glow and  smile is huge when he sees the bride he loves for the very first time. And I want the type of couples that are open to creativity, that if it rains on their wedding day they’re willing to stand under an umbrella and get an epic shot in the rain, or that if I tell a bride jump on the table with no shoes on and candles lighting it up, they’re more than willing to do it. I want the couple that is willing to do anything to get an amazing shot on the day of their wedding. Those are MY type of clients and that is MY style.

It may not be “good enough” for other people, but if it’s “good enough” for my client, then it’s “good enough” for me!  That’s all that matters to me.