As a Colorado Photographer, there are phrases and words we use that not everyone understands. But, while working in a school, clever verbiage always pops up that ALL can understand. “Glows, Grows, and Ah-has”. This is where the kiddos focus on something they did well, something they need to work on for next time, and things that make you say “hmm”.
So, here are my Glows, Grows, and an Ah-ha that made my brain hurt.
“Hey, my life is real great, feel I’m well on my way to my dreams coming true. And I’m getting to do with you.”-Judah and The Lion
The families I met were top-notch, first class, and all other fitting synonyms for BEST.
From the first inquiries of new clients, to the texts and Facebook messages of my loyal returning families, I shared so many belly laughs with you all. We were able to talk about life, how big the kids are getting, about college plans for the future and beyond. I took you to my most prized locations, and you opened my eyes to new spots that were just perfect. All the awkward poses happened, but all of the best images were developed. Year after year, you guys show up! During all months of the year, family photos, studio sessions, mini sessions, viewing appointments, and delivery days- you guys show up!
I attended Imaging USA waaaaay back in January.
Or maybe it was February. I don’t know. But regardless, it was freaking amazing. I left there so inspired ready to provide my families with the best while knowing my worth. On this trip, I was able to network with other professionals, bounce ideas off each other and learn until I physically couldn’t stay awake.
In terms of numbers, this was my best year.
I was able to put money and TIME back into my business where I felt areas were lacking- education and equipment. If I’m being honest, you can’t have a successful photography business without those two. I thought I was doing great with just some mediocre equipment and a pathetic amount of knowledge, but pffftt! I slowly realized (and am still realizing) that as a Colorado Photographer, I actually know nothing. Haha. I heard someone say once “Don’t take business advice from someone who isn’t where you want to be.” So, I found local photographers that I admire through and through and took their courses, emailed obsessively, stalked just a little bit. I wanted to make sure I got advice from someone in this profession, and in this market. Not just some random Joe Schmoe that gives motivational speeches about business. I found something fine tuned for me. For us.
This next one, oh man, is probably my biggest “glow” ever.
I’m involved in a bajillion photography groups. When I say a bajillion, I mean, I have an addiction of fitting into these awe inspiring groups. In those groups, people are constantly posing for referrals. “I have a family session of four, looking for mountain views, budget of $xxx, available whenever.” Something like that. Tons of photographers add their names and websites hoping to be in the bunch that is referred to the seaking family. I usually add my name and forget about it because all of the photographers that post before me are dang good, guys. And they’re all super experienced! I always think, “Ahh, I don’t think I can do this but I’m going to add my name anyways”
Well guess freaking what? The requesting family (in several different situations) picked me! Not once, not twice, but three times! Three times these families scoured my website, looked at my portfolios, got to know me through my pathetic use of words on these blogs, and PICKED ME! Gah, I can’t even believe it sometimes. There are a million other people they could’ve picked that are cheaper, or better, but I was their girl.
All of that education stuff doesn’t stop here.
I still need so so so much help with my website, blogging and social media. I am learning all of the tricks to make it easy for families to find their Colorado Photographer. That all comes with time and time doesn’t come easy while having a full time job. That’s okay though. I’m going to invest in these areas when I can and in time, I’ll see the rewards.
I tried using off camera flash this year. Twice. Oyyyy.
This is definitely going to be something I work super hard on during 2020. I know learning this technique will make your future photos just a little extra special.
Can I tell you something that just blew my mind this year? I spent money- lots of money- on marketing this year. I made all of the fancy paper flyers, advertisements for the local high schools, threw my money away on social media ads and even paid people to advertise for me. Want to know how many sessions I got from all of that? One. Just one. Guess where 99% of my new sessions came from. Referrals. Old school traditional word of mouth. This next year, I will not be marketing with the high schools. It is a stupid business move and doesn’t bring in any business for me. The Facebook ads? Unless I can get some serious help on how to pinpoint my audience, no thank you.
Things that make you go “hmmmm”.
There was one thing made me say “hmmm”,shake my head, and hurt my feelings. I had several people tell me I was too expensive, and tell me that my products were overpriced. I had friends tell me that my markup was insane, and they know another Colorado photographer that can do it for less. Let me tell you the real part that brought me to tears. Guys, you’re asking me to put a price on my kids. You’re asking me to tell you a dollar amount for leaving my family to photograph yours. Some people didn’t think that my kids are worth it. My children deserve to go out for dinner, go on vacations, and have some padding for college, too. As all of your kiddos do!
I had one friend ask me how much I charge for a certain session and when I told her she laughed at me. Laughed at me in front of other friends! I always politely smile back, I always try to educate, but I died a little inside. There’s a lot that goes into deciding what my price should be and I won’t get into all of that now. But it literally comes down to this. The price I quote you is the smallest fraction of the largest unfathomable dollar amount for time away spent away from my kids.
However, the good outweighs the bad. My families that I did get to photograph and provide products for didn’t bat an eye at my worth. There were very very very few situations where I had to explain products and all of them responded with “We get it. And we want it all.”
In short, I just love what I get to do. I love being your Colorado photographer, watching you all view your photos right in front of me, and I love seeing your photos adorn your homes. We are going to continue these relationships we’ve made whether you like it or not, haha. Here’s to 2020! Here’s to more Glows, Grows, and Ah-Has!