We had a whoooooole different post prepared for today. We just taught a class about Lightroom last night, and we were going to do a continuation off of that. But a conversation with a friend inspired this post to take an entirely different direction. Maybe we’ll talk about Lightroom one day. Maybe not. But we thought this topic was WAY more important. And this just doesn’t apply to photographers…any business owner, heck, any HUMAN can walk away with something from this post. Because we’re just going to say it.
Who cares if you don’t fit in.
In our industry, there are a lot of big name photographers who offer mentorships, courses, classes, manuals, templates, and anything else you can think of to help you in your business! Now, please don’t get us wrong. We adore Zach & Jody and Katelyn James as much as the next person. They (along with all the others!) are beautiful people who know what it takes to be successful. They’re kicking butt, taking names, and are wonderful, giving, loving people. We are in NO WAY saying that you should not seek out help from any of these people. We have! If it weren’t for Zach & Jody’s Creative Live class, Katelyn James’ bridal guide template, Justin & Mary’s blog posts, Amy & Jordan’s Instagram tips, and OF COURSE our yearly Connect Retreat, we would NOT be where we are today. We owe a lot to these wonderful professionals and truly love them. But we have learned a lesson in the past few years that was a hard pill to swallow, but extremely liberating at the same time.
We are not them. And we never will be.
As creatives, it is ALLLL too easy to play the comparison game. Do my images match what is trendy right now? Am I laying out my packages the same way this photographer does? Should I just get rid of my packages and do everything a la carte? Am I posting on my blog enough? Does my Instagram feed look pretty enough? Should I submit more weddings so I can say I’m published? Should I make my website match this other person’s over here? Why is no one commenting on my Facebook posts?
It. Is. EXHAUSTING. As business owners, there is one person, and one person only we should be seeking the approval of. And that is the client.
If we are shooting to impress other photographers, or shooting so we get published on the knot, or shooting so we win competitions, or shooting so our images look like this photographer’s or that photographer’s, oh friends…we have missed the mark completely. The one thing, the ONLY THING that matters is whether or not we are making our clients happy and giving them the best experience we possibly can. So, you shoot in a way that isn’t mainstream. Are you booking? Are your clients happy with your style? Then who cares if you don’t fit in! You are a warrior and you are making it happen. You don’t specialize and you want to because everyone tells you that you should? Are you successful? Do you find joy in taking pictures of families, babies AND weddings and can’t ever imagine giving any of it up? Then who cares if you don’t fit in. Did you cancel your Two Bright Lights subscription because you just found the entire process of submitting photos taxing, overwhelming, and discouraging? Did they constantly tell you that you don’t shoot enough details? Well, are your clients happy with the emotion you’ve captured? Are those story telling pictures way more important to them than pictures of stuff? Then who cares if you don’t fit in. Do you prefer taking 100% candid photos even though everyone else is saying how important posing and lighting is? Do your clients love how you capture them just as they are? Isn’t that the reason they hired you in the first place? Then who cares if you don’t fit in! Is your Instagram feed full of poorly lit images that show off your family? Don’t your clients just love seeing your true self and connecting with you on a personal level? THEN WHO CARES IF YOU DON’T FIT IN.
At this point, you might be saying to yourself…wait a minute Kent & Stephanie. You guys are featured on The Knot a lot, and you blog constantly, and you have specialized in weddings. Yes. You are absolutely right. All of these things are true. But let us let you in on a little secret. We get rejected by publishers more than we get featured because our images are too emotional. But that is the thing that our clients love about our images, so we’re not about to change that. AND the entire reason behind us seeking publication? It has NOTHING to do with it validating us. It has EVERYTHING to do with showing off our couples and making them feel amazing. Wouldn’t you feel amazing if YOUR wedding was on a wedding planning website? Of course you would! To us, that’s just making our clients’ experience that much better. And do we blog a lot? Yes. Absolutely we do. Do you know why? It’s because we LOVE sharing our life, featuring our couples, and educating brides and photographers. And I get it. Everyone and their brother thinks education is the next step once you’ve finally “made it” as a photographer. Listen. We’re no experts. But we know what works for US. And every couple who is getting married deserves a wonderful experience. Every couple is NOT going to hire us, so why wouldn’t we help and educate other photographers in order to best serve their couples who are going through a very precious and transitional time in their lives??? And THAT is exactly why we specialize in weddings. Because it’s what we’re PASSIONATE about. Does it create a “boutique experience?” Absolutely it does. But more than that, it makes us happy because it’s what we love, and it makes our clients happy because that passion comes through in the photos.
We don’t shoot dynamic lighting like Justin & Mary. We don’t gift our clients extravagant gifts like Zach & Jody. Our images don’t look like Katelyn James’. And our Instagram will NEVER be as pretty as Amy & Jordan’s.
And you know what?
We had to stop comparing ourself to others. We had to stop adopting every business tip we came across. We had to stop stressing about whether or not people were pinning or accepting our images. Because we’re going to be REALLY honest. Doing that hurt our business more than it helped. We were lost in a sea of what other people were telling us we had to do and how our pictures had to look, and ultimately we were confused and were giving inconsistent images and experiences to all of our clients. We were changing too often. Sound familiar? If so, take a step back and think about what is important to YOU and why your clients hired you in the first place. The people we’re getting our information from are obviously very successful and we should definitely heed their advice! If it makes sense for our business. We cannot, nor will we ever be all things to all people, ever. We are each UNIQUE and CREATIVE individuals. Celebrate your uniqueness!
Shoot to please your clients. Shoot to please yourself. Don’t play the comparison game. <3
We’re Kent & Stephanie. We don’t always get featured, we have less than 600 followers on Instagram, we can’t edit a wedding in 5 hours, and our images are OUR style, even if others don’t agree with it.
And we couldn’t be happier about it. <3