Just like I did last year, I wanted to write up an overview of the good, the bad, and the amazing from the past 365 days. New Years Eve is my absolute favorite holiday, because of everything that it represents. It’s a time for reflection, motivation, and goal setting. Here is mine.
Many of you may skip through all of these words that I write below, but that’s okay, because this post isn’t necessarily for you. It’s for me.
P E R S O N A L T R I A L S & T R I U M P H S of 2 0 1 4
1) New Year, New Home, New Career Change… Once mine & Seth’s first house together was purchased last December, the first few months after moving in were definitely trying times for us. We’d never known each other as roommates and many many compromises had to be made for us to smoothly co-habitat together. For the first 3 months, issues such as these were popping up: Who was going to do the laundry? What is the proper way to do laundry? Can you please clear your plate in the trash before putting it in the sink? It’s your turn to take the dog out. Where is the dog? Do you smell puppy poop?… Glad that stage is over… On top of it all I was scared to death of how I was going to pay my portion of the bills. I was working through the week as a school photographer for a major company. I skimmed by pinching pennies, hating my day-job, wishing that my talents weren’t being wasted, wishing that I could be more creative with my job, and wishing that my wallet was even the tiniest bit fatter. I drove an average of 2 hours everyday in a convertible with piled up photography company BS everywhere that left me only an empty driver’s seat & an even emptier gas tank. The wear & tear on my car was getting old, I started hating children (maybe just people in general), and I was poor. My grandfather’s famous quote kept ringing in my head. Before his passing, he continuously encouraged me to do whatever my heart desired for a career, but know that I’d never earn a substantial income as an artist if I wasn’t working for myself. Maybe that’s not entirely true, but it made sense to me. So, I decided that I wasn’t getting any younger, went online, started my LLC, opened a business account, signed up for business insurance… and quit my day job.
2) OH YEA, FULL-TIME YEA… The BEST part about 2014 was going full-time with Brook Rudolph Photography! It was terrifying and invigorating all at the same time. Of course I didn’t just jump without being smart about it. I knew I had at least 3 months of solid work lined up and that income would be more than what I was making at my current job. I advertised like crazy, prayed a lot, took advice from other entrepreneurs, and clung to the faith & encouragement that my friends, family, and boyfriend had in me. Now that January is almost here, I’ve made it 6 entire months as a full time business owner.
3) Convincing People that I was/am LEGIT… I feel like there is a stigma against photographers and the struggle to convince people otherwise is real at times. The first month that I was full time I went to an event where I found myself in small talk with a friend-of-a-friend. The question arises, “So what do you do for a living?” I smile and reply that I’m a photographer. He comes back with, “Oh. So that’s like your hobby… and then your job is…?”…………. Later I met a MUA who first gave me a story about how her career wasn’t working as she’d expected so she was going back to school for nursing. I told her what I did for a living and she gave a half laugh and said, “Yea, so you know how I feel. There are so many photographers out there. It’s hard to find business. Have you thought about going back to school?”…… The last, and maybe my favorite of the year, was when a client’s husband flat out told me that my pricing was outrageous (as he pulled up in his brand new $70K truck & orders a $15 coffee). SMH. Dear Jesus, Hold me back!
4) Convincing MYSELF that am LEGIT… I’m a recovering people-pleaser. I thoroughly enjoy the act of giving, which has at times, interfered with my pricing. As I’ve reviewed my recorded revenue for the past year I shake my head and laugh at myself. What was I thinking at times? I was probably thinking, “I like them, I’ll give them a deal.” Next year, I’m turning this thought process around. Instead of thinking about pricing myself cheaper to make people happy, I’ll be thinking, “I like them, I’m going to do an exceptionally good job on their photos to make them happy.” After all, what are you going to remember? How much money you spent on something or how much you love the final product?
5) Taking time to learn from experts… The best business decision I’ve made in 2014 was to attend and watch as many business & photography workshops as possible. You want to talk about gaining confidence? Who doesn’t love a good motivational speech or hands-on training? I’ve honestly learned more in the last year than I think I did my entire 5 years in college. I’ve had Sal Cincotta convince me that in-person sales are what this business is all about (hello new goal for 2015), Blair Phillips gave me secrets to marketing for my volume photography & the tools needed for some amazing off-camera flash, and Amanda Holloway taught me all what’s needed to know about branding my business.
6) No More Studio?… One of my former co-workers so generously let me sub-lease a photography studio space from her this past year. I was there for exactly one year and ultimately decided to leave. Although the convenience of having the space “saved me” a few times from having to cancel or reschedule a session, I felt that it did more harm for my brand that it did good. While working in the studio I found myself thinking less creatively and I was using a style that wasn’t what I wanted to represent my business. Without a studio, I’m now going to be able to save for a new space and location that will better fit my brand, serve as a location for in-person sales meetings, & consultations.
N O W . . . F O R H I G H L I G H T S O F S O M E O F M Y F A V O R I T E S E S S I O N S O F 2 0 1 4
This year I photographed indoor weddings, outdoor weddings, a surprise wedding, a rainy day wedding, second & third marriages, a wedding in the city, a wedding in the mountains, one in 100 degree weather, and even a wedding where I was asked to only photograph the flower girls and ring bearers. THIS diversity is what keeps me fresh and helps me expand my creativity and skill set.
Above all, I’m blessed to have had the privilege to work amoungst other wedding vendors that share my same passion and who’s talent makes me want to be better as well. Some of my favorite vendors that I shared moments with this year were…
Wedding Planners- Simply Southern Wed, Always Go Overboard Events
Wedding Videographer- Crown Alley Films and Shelby Camera, Video, & Photo
Cakes- Christy’s Cake Factory, Wow Factor Cakes, Curly’s Cupcakes
Florist- Carey Roberts Design Co, Albertine Florals, Springvine Design
Musicians & Djs- Dean’s Duets, Sabra Callas, Audio To Go with Chong Lor, DH DJ
Rentals- Got You Covered, Cooke Rentals
Venues- The Earl Scruggs Center, Brakefield at Riverwalk, Rock Springs Campground, Baker Buffalo Creek Vineyard and Winery, Roof with a View, Laboratory Mills, Vesuvius Vineyards, Levine Museum of the New South, Beatty’s Ford Park, Jetton Park, and Freedom Park
Here are a few clips of my newborn sessions this year. All but one of these sessions were photographed at the clients’ homes.
With about 1/3 of my sessions styled, I’ve thoroughly become obsessed. In 2015 I’m looking to push for at least 1/2 of my sessions to be styled, because I firmly believe that personalization is worth so much more. In 2015 I intend to set up dates for at least 3 styled mini sessions that will most likely be for Spring, Fall, and Christmas.
Photographing events and birthday parties is so much fun for me. I’m able to capture the day for my clients in a way that they’d never have the time or patience for and it’s the perfect time for me to practice my wedding photography skills… detail shots, candids, low light photos, fast paced moments, crowd gathering skills, and Off-Camera flash. This year I photographed Johnson & Wales University’s Spring Formal, Costner Law Offices Christmas party, Terpsichore’s Dance Centre‘s Spring Dance Recital, and too many events to count for I Always Go Overboard: Events.I accomplished a personal goal this year of photographing a preschool. It was a big deal for me for multiple reasons. One of which was to prove to myself that I COULD make it into the market and another reason was to show clients that school photography doesn’t have to be boring or traditional. Thanks for contracting with me, Little Scholars Academy of Lake Norman!I’ve mentioned before in my blog posts that my FAVORITE sessions are ones where I get to photograph women. Whether it be for professional headshots (like I took for Simply Southern Wedding & Event Design), Bridal portraits, High School Senior photography, Boudoir sessions or Maternity sessions. I’m quite obsessed with creating portraits for women in a way that represents them in the most beautiful way.Our Styled Fall Mini Sessions this year were a huge hit. Our theme “Apple of My Eye” revolved around bringing the family together in the crisp Fall air, photographed with the most precious decor that included apples, apple cider, handmade quilts, a vintage couch, Autumn leaves, and southern flair.
Now that the past is the past, it’s New Year resolution time!!!
Here are 9 GOALS for my business in 2015:
1) Incorporating In-Person sales to create a full service photography experience for all of my clients! (blog post about this coming soon!!!)
2) Getting more involved in volume photography (dance studios & preschools)
3) Mentor uprising photographers (high schoolers and college students in particular)
4) Learning more about and incorporating video into my skill set
5) More networking and making new photog friends
6) Attending an out-of-state workshop
7) Attending a Wedding/Bridal Show
8) Incorporating a reflector and/or off-camera flash into EVERY session that I photograph!
9) Write at least 1 blog post every other week
Thanks for being supportive in Brook Rudolph Photography’s success!!! Love you all & hope everyone has an amazing year!