**Happy Thursday you guys!! This week & next, Justin & I are off on some fun adventures (wine tasting in the Finger Lakes & the Lilac Festival this week & then something EXTRA fun next week for my birthday!) so we thought it would be fun to have some of our past Walk Through a Wedding attendees guest blog for us so we could check in & see where they are now. First up, we have the amazing & super sweet Alicia White! Alicia came to our April Walk Through last year, and at the end of the night on the second day we sat talking in the corner about where her business could be. A year later, I am SO blown away to see that Alicia has accomplished everything we talked about and MORE! She just launched her new brand last week that fits her to a T!! And she's here today to share how she got there!
Oh, Hello There Everyone! Let me start off by saying that it’s such an honor & treat to be guest blogging today! I have learned so incredibly much from Justin & Mary and am extremely grateful for their openness to share and strong passion to help others succeed & grow in their businesses. I cannot believe it has already been a YEAR since I attended Justin & Mary’s Walk Through a Wedding Workshop. It’s hard to imagine that two days can make much of a difference in the direction of your business, right? But it was exactly a year ago that I started to take my business to the next level and I am grateful to Justin & Mary for empowering me with the tools and courage to get where I am today.
I’m not saying it will happen overnight or that there is a simple solution, but it IS comforting to know there are resources and workshops like Walk Through a Wedding that aim at ALL parts of who we are as photographers; both as artists and business people. Having had the opportunity to attend the workshop, I can whole heartedly say I know myself better as a photographer and have a solid understanding of my brand & how I want it to be illuminated throughout my business. Bringing my brand to life was a key focus of the last year and now I can officially say I’ve launched my new website and brand (YaY!). Now that I have a strong brand and professional website, I feel that much more confident to charge what I’m worth. The truth of the matter is, without the knowledge I gained from Justin & Mary, the result would be nowhere near where it is today.
A few months before attending the workshop, my husband and I had just moved to Charlotte, North Carolina and I was looking to really start building my business now that we were settling down in an area. Overwhelmed doesn’t even begin to describe how it felt. At the time I had a logo, website, & blog that I created myself that helped to display my work. But let’s face it, I was missing a brand to help highlight my personality and the experience of working with me. As for the BUSINESS side of things? (Insert theme song to Jaws). Phew. I came into this profession as an artist and emotional storyteller and have learned we must also tap into our business/marketing minds as well. It’s unfortunate that the business side of our profession is often overlooked because it is what enables us to pursue and grow our artistic selves that we all love so much!!
Even though I could write a short novel on all the information I learned within the two days of the workshop, I wanted to share highlights of THREE topics we explored in depth that really impacted me and gave me the confidence to really grow and expand my business this year:
Brand Power: The information that I learned about branding & business from Mary is absolutely priceless. At the time of the workshop, the in-depth discussion about the power of branding was exactly what I needed for my business and where I focused most of my attention this year into creating. Having a strong brand that represents YOU (and the experience of working with you) not only sets you apart from others in your area, but also creates an emotional connection in which the right clients will want to hire you for their wedding. A brand is not just about how organized or “pretty” a website looks, but more importantly how does the website make the couple feel. Everything from the initial email and onward should be reflected in the brand. Creating that emotional connection by demonstrating who you are throughout the brand is one of the most valuable things you can do for your business. Don’t be afraid to show off what makes you unique! A strong & consistent brand should highlight and attract clients that are a good fit for your personality and experience. Think of your website as a store front. When someone enters your store, what do you want him or her to see, feel, and experience? The branding process WILL take some time and should be done correctly and reflect professionalism. I’m extremely thankful to Mary for sending me toRavyn at Three Fifteen Design who helped create the logo & website that I envisioned and felt in my heart for my brand.
Creating Love Marks: Looking through their website, you might notice particular trends in the fashion and “feel” of the Justin & Mary couples and weddings they photograph. They have an impressive portfolio filled with couples that look almost hand selected by them. As described above, having a strong and consistent brand will help to showcase the type of weddings & couples that you will attract. When we create an emotional attachment (often due to feeling a familiar “like” connection), couples will feel that they HAVE to work with you. We must create those “love mark” relationships and experiences within our business that make an impression on our couples so that whenever the word photographer gets brought up, they will shout your name from the rooftops! Just as when someone says the word coffee, my mind automatically thinks of Starbucks, the right “fit” clients for your brand should do the same about your business! We talked about the importance of going above & beyond in maintaining positive relationships and creating cheerleaders for our businesses. What’s the first thing you do when you get upgraded to first class on a plane or get moved to a bigger hotel room that you reserved when you show up at the door? If your anything like me, you post it to your Facebook wall for the world to see what an amazing experience your having! That’s the same experience we want to create for our clients as photographers. Justin & Mary completely blew me away with how much time and effort they put into pampering their clients with gifts & treats that reflect their brand throughout the year (and I mean, who doesn’t love a fun branded surprise?) Instead of pouring their money into online/print advertising, Justin & Mary have found that putting more money towards catering to their couples has set them apart and creates a luxury brand.
Lighting: I knew coming to the workshop we were going to be discussing lighting, in particular off camera flash. What I wasn’t expecting was how in depth Justin & Mary went into ALL the different sources and dimensions of light and how this creates different results within the look and feel of the images. Not only was this presented throughout a powerpoint & real life demonstration, but we were also given the opportunity to practice shooting as if it were a real wedding day. Before the workshop I had no prior knowledge about anything off camera flash (seriously, none). To be honest, it was something that I didn’t think “was my style” and seemed so “out there” for me to learn when there are so many other things in the business I could be spending my time doing. But you know what? There might be situations in which having the knowledge to be able to do OCF is worth its weight in gold. For example, lets say you arrive at a wedding and the reception is underneath JUST the sky/stars with nothing to bounce your on-camera flash. Now what? (Scary, huh?) How about a reception in which the entire room and ceiling is all red oak - ever tried bouncing light off that? (Hint, it turns the entire room and people bright red). Having the knowledge of using OCF sets you apart as a professional in that you are able to work in various settings without worry for both you and the couple. Sure, I still consider my style as a “natural light” photographer (and will use natural light whenever I can), but having the knowledge of HOW to use my off camera light gives me the added confidence and professionalism that I am taking care of my couples no matter what the situation might present.
There is no doubt about it, I am incredibly grateful to have attended the workshop. I would have never known exactly what was necessary to propel my business the way it has this past year if I hadn’t experienced such an in-depth and open workshop. The hearts of both Justin & Mary are so genuine and they continue to encourage and challenge me to face my fears and become the confident business owner that I know exists within. Which in turn, allows me to enjoy my career as a photographer (and artist!) that much more. Thank you SO much J&M! I feel more ready & confident than ever for the future of my business.
***Our next Walk Through a Wedding Workshop will be taking place June 11-12th at our place in CT!! The theme is "To Have & To BHLDN" and we are already working on some KILLER Anthropologie inspired details that I can't wait to show you! We would LOVE for you to join us! If you want to grab your spot, just head over HERE and be sure to use the code "blogreader" for $250 off your seat!
It was somewhere around the middle of November 2011, when I laid on the floor with my face buried in an old sweatshirt and cried angry, salty, stinging, bitter tears.
They ran down my face without apology, and with each crashing drop I felt the weight on my shoulders growing heavier.
I was stuck. I was frustrated. I was furious at myself for not doing more...and being more...and having more to show for the year behind me that was so quickly fading away.
I was tired. Tired of watching somebody else chase every one of my dreams. Tired of watching other people do what I wanted to do, and do it better. They were out there getting it done. Making each and every one of their dreams happen, like some golden to-do list that they were just marching their way through like an invading army . And I was on the floor crying into an old sweatshirt.
I felt the impending downward spiral of the ugly, ugly comparison monster coming on, and in that moment I just let go and let it wash over me in waves. I told myself a flurry of lies about how that would never be me. I listed out all the things I would never be able to do, so what was the point in even bothering at all. And I rocked the idea of just giving up altogether back and forth, as my sobs faded away into quiet tears.
It was a not very pretty moment in my life.
I felt jealous....and angry at myself for being jealous. I felt lost...and angry at myself for being lost. I felt like a failure....and I was angry at myself for failing.
But somewhere in the smoldering ashes of just giving up altogether, a spark started to take root.
It was somewhere on that hardwood floor with my face buried in an old sweatshirt that I started to realized two things: 1) I didn't want to give up. Not really. Because I never ever ever wanted to be the person who just gave up without giving it one more try and 2) it wasn't really that I was jealous of what other people had...it was just that them going out and chasing after their dreams was shining a big, bright, glaring spotlight on the fact that I wasn't chasing mine.
And that right there was what really needed to change.
I had been stuck in this quicksand mire of just maintaining. A mountain of email and editing and doubt mixed in with fear. And I was so busy spinning myself in circles that I hadn't moved forward at all. And there was one thing right then that I knew for certain: I didn't want to find myself at the end of 2012 realizing that yet another year had gone by and I was no closer to actually DOING something about those really big dreams that I had been dreaming. That another year had gone by, and I still hadn't managed to pick myself up off the floor.
And so, we went to work. And we set about to make 2012 a game changer for us.
And I can tell you now with just a few days left to go....that it has been. In the past 12 months we have gotten to go places and do things that never in my WILDEST dreams did I imagine would be checked off this year. Just a few of my favorites have been teaching a workshop in Australia, writing The Guide, doing a shoot with a hot air balloon, giving away a trip to Disney to a deserving military family at our talk at WPPI, having our anniversary pictures taken by Jose (Freakin!!) Villa, speaking at the What If Conference, speaking at a women's Christian Conference at Pursuit 31, and getting a whole chapter in the new Style Me Pretty book (more on that to come!).
But here's the thing, it's not really about us. Or what we've checked off of our list.
It's about you and your list.
This is a post for any of you who are finding yourself on the proverbial (or maybe literal) hardwood floor with your face buried in an old sweatshirt. It's for any of you who feel like you're too busy spinning in circles to move yourself forward. It's for anyone out there who is feeling like you're looking back on 2012 and you don't feel one step closer to chasing the really big dreams than you were this time last year.
And it's for ALL of you who never want to feel this way again.
In January, Justin & I will be hitting the road in the Showit Tour Bus (along with a crew made of some of our closest friends) to go to 10 cities for the What's Next Tour with one goal in mind: to help you sucker punch fear in the face. To make 2013 the year that's looked back on as the game changer for you all. The year when you picked yourself up, dusted yourself off and decided to never give up without one more try. The year when you refused to stay within the safe comforts of average, when you chose to do the hard work that matters, and you got your hands dirty in the name of chasing a dream.
If you are ready to get up off that floor, we're here to help you. If you're ready to admit that "someday" isn't a day you'll ever find on the calendar, we're here to help you make it happen. If you are tired of standing on the sidelines watching someone else chase every BIG dream you ever had, if you are tired of playing small, I will fight side by side with you as you carve out a next action plan. And then cheer like crazy when it actually happens.
Because here's the thing, I don't think the world needs more dreamers.
I think the world needs more dreamers who are actually getting it done.
We would be honored to have you join us.
***And as an extra push to do this for yourself, when you grab your seat today using the code "mytime" that will get you $50 off your ticket to both sessions!! You can grab your seats HERE!!
I have always been a girl who has wanted to be ahead of wherever I am.
When I was in junior high, I couldn't wait to be in high school.
When I was a Freshman in college, I couldn't wait to be a Senior.
When we had an apartment, I couldn't wait to buy a house.
And, when we first started our business, I couldn't wait to be a big deal "destination wedding photographer' (whatever that was) charging thousands and thousands of dollars like all of the people that I looked up to.
I'm here to tell you something: right now is way more amazing than any of us give it credit for.
And not to go all country music on you but....you're going to miss this.
You're going to miss those early days of your business. You're going to miss the fight. The fire. The firsts.
You're going to miss that feeling the very first time somebody hires you because of YOU. Not because you happen to be a photographer and they need a photographer. But because they can't imagine their day being the same with anyone but you.
You're going to miss the early wins. The hunger. The wanting it so bad you can taste it.
And yes, you're even going to (well sort of) miss those late nights, the losses, the brick walls that just made you stronger.
Oh don't get me wrong, the stuff still to come is pretty world-rockingly amazing too. And the adventure just keeps getting better and better.
But don't you waste a second of your adventure peeking behind door number two to see what better thing is coming.
You only get one chance at right now.
And trust me, your right now is way more wild & precious than someone else's down the road.
Video Blog: Your Courage is Bigger than Your Excuses
Good morning friends!!
Today we are super SUPER lucky to be able to share with you a video interview that I recently got to do with the absolutely world-rockingly incredible Desirea Stott Rodgers, co-founder of Love 146. I first got to hear Desirea's story (and the story of the non-profit that she started, Love 146, and how it all came to be) when we were both speaking at the Pursuit 31 Conference last month in Georgia.
To put it in the most succinct of terms: she completely blew me away.
A few years back, Desirea was just getting her own photography business off the ground when she was invited on a trip to Thailand that would change everything. She was invited by a friend who had asked her what she knew about human trafficking, and if she would be willing to see what was going on first hand. A couple weeks and a plane ride back later, Love 146- a non-profit aimed at nothing short of obliterating child sex trafficking entirely that now has a multi-million dollar budget- was born.
I think what is really so amazing about this story, is that Desirea was just like a lot of you out there might be right now: just trying to figure out how the heck to get her photography business off the ground in the first place. Asking herself how she was going to pay the bills with it, how she was going to get her name out there. But what she couldn't possibly know, was that at that very moment she was being prepared for something so much bigger. She was being prepared to take up her camera as a sword in the fight for hope and justice in this world. Think about that now. in the midst of all that we worry about with Facebook likes and blog comments and rebranding and who's who...
What is it that you might be being prepared for right now as we speak?
**In this video, just some of the things that Desirea & I talk about are:
- The difference between a career and a calling
- How it's ok to have fear, as long as that doesn't turn into your excuse not to do something about it
- Pushing through the moments when you really just want to run away.
- The best way to do what feels like the impossible
- The definition of courage
- And so much more!
I invite you to first watch this video to introduce yourself to Love 146 & their mission (**but be warned, while it is not graphic it is definitely on a subject matter that can be hard to watch):
And then please join me as I have the HUGE honor of interviewing this incredible woman, Ms. Desirea Stott Rodgers, and finding out just how big we can go when we realize our courage is bigger than our excuses.
**Desirea, I can never thank you enough for sitting on my couch with me and sharing your beautiful, beautiful heart. I am honored to call you a friend.
This morning I want you to stop-everything- and ask yourself this question: What have you been telling yourself that you can't do?
When is the last time you told yourself: I can't. I don't. I'm not good enough. I'll never be able to. I'm not meant to.? If I'm being honest, the last time for me was when I opened up this blog post and sat blankly staring at the screen. Immediately, no less than seven different thoughts ran through my head of why I would never (or should never) be able to write a post like this.
And I guess that in and of itself is the reason it needs to be done.
How many times do we go through our days accepting these stories we tell ourselves as the truth. I'll never be able to shoot like so & so...I guess I don't have what it takes. or Of course I made that mistake, I always mess things like that up. or Of course I didn't get asked to do that project, I never get asked to do things like that. or I'll never have gear like that, a studio like that, get to shoot weddings like that, or be given opportunities like that. or It always comes so easy for her/him, but that will never ever be me. Sounds pretty familiar right? I know, because I've thought all of them too.
Throughout the course of our business, I can't tell you how many times I've told myself these stories about how we'll never be able to do this or how it always happens for someone else or how nothing is ever going to change. And you know what? It just isn't true. And yet, those thoughts still keep creeping in.
I don't know why our thoughts work the way that they do. I don't know why we're hard wired to say things to ourselves that we would never dream of saying to someone else. And honestly, I don't know why we listen to ourselves when we do. But what I do know, is that it's holding us back.
Every little lie, every cutting remark, every criticism we say about ourselves is holding us back from our ability to go out and shine. To run like hell toward a dream and to feel that rush when we finally decide to just let go and fly. To feel the warmth on our faces, to have that light from within. And to leap each time the ledge comes around. And yet....we lie.
I want you to do me this favor. As you go through the rest of your day, I just want you to keep a running count. Every time you catch yourself thinking one of these self-defeating thoughts, just mark it down somewhere or keep a count in your head. And then at the end of the day, see how many times you told yourself you can't. Heck, at the end of the hour see how many times it was. That will be step one.
Then tomorrow we're going to do it again. Only this time, every time you catch yourself saying you can't....I want you to find a way to turn it around into a can. Find a way to tell yourself the story of how it can happen. How it will happen.
Then go out and run like hell toward it.
Rock it out,
**This is a sneak peek of a super exciting shoot we were lucky enough to do...more coming soon!