What do you want from me?
Hey hi hello! Welcome to the new page! I realize I'm obsessed with new, fresh beginnings. I've redone my website twice in the last year, but I think I'll stay here for a while! And for my fellow photographers out there, I'm currently using square space and I love it!
So why the move?
I want things to be simple. I'm constantly reviewing my page and asking myself the same questions over and over again. Does my page represent me? Is it to the point? Is it clear? Is it showcasing my work? Is it drawing people in? Do people want to know more? Are people reacting to my work? Am I easy to contact? Personable? Too personable? Professional enough? What's too much and what's not enough? Does anybody ever know?
So I took a step back and asked myself what I would want. Now this probably sounds selfish and narrow minded, I don't hope to draw in clients just like myself, I'm just the only one I have to talk to at 5 am. I want to have a versatile client base. So how do I do that? How do I reach the type of people I'm looking for? How do I say, "I really want to shoot an Indian wedding!" or "I love love! So send all your gay friends to me!" without being extremely offensive and let's be honest, a little creepy sounding.
I still don't have answers. So here I am.
I am a wedding photographer. I love love. I capture emotion. I will make you laugh. Not because I'm trying, I'm usually the only one that laughs at my jokes, but because I'm a little awkward. The moment right before you kiss is my favorite moment ever. I'm a Nikon girl. The 35mm lens is my absolute favorite, I know, what? I take a step stool to most of my sessions.. I'm 5'4. I'm an over-user of commas, I'm a dog person, jeans and t-shirt person. Okay, by jeans I mean yoga pants. I like ugg boots even though every girl in my junior high school was wearing them in 2001 (crap, I just aged myself). I love rain and I also love pumpkin spiced coffee. I have a two year old named Presley, Yes after the King, and my fiancé's name is Jon, Yes we are Jon + Jahni. I'm currently planning my own wedding, and this is actually what sparked this blog post.
Being a photographer is starting to feel like my job more than my hobby. I love that, and all that comes with it, but I don't want my values as an artist to go out the window just because my values as a business owner are growing. People other than just my mom are starting to take me seriously, people other than just my mom are commenting and liking pictures I post on Facebook and Instagram. And who even knows, someone other than just my mom might be reading this blog post. (Love you mom.) As clientele grows and I narrow down all the nitty gritty of owning a business, I see the importance more than ever in charging a reflecting price on what you do.
Owning a photography business isn't, "Hey I got this cool camera, of course I know what I'm doing." (Sorry 2007 me). It's knowledge, software, a good computer or two, more than a handful of different lenses, a stack of speedy memory cards, a number of monthly charges including website hosting, management and programs. It's hours of backups, emailing, editing, scheduling, reading, learning, meeting, driving, and sometimes crying. It's also so much more importantly, determination, discipline, balance and grace. You're forced to be this perfect balance between throwing it all out there and keeping things to yourself. What's enough and what's too much? Am I profiting this month? Am I cheap? Too expensive? Are people not taking my seriously because of what I charge? Some people say they'd never pay that much, it's just taking a picture, my friend has a good camera so he can do it, I can edit my own photos, why should I pay someone else to do that? Some people say, why aren't you charging more? You need to value yourself, you need to profit more, you need to charge more to get your ideal clients, you need to add charges for everything you're doing. How do we even know anymore? How do we gain confidence in our businesses? I want good photographs to be available to those who value their dimes. I also want to be valued and taken seriously. Who says those on a budget shouldn't be able to afford quality photographs. But I don't want those with bigger budgets to look down on me and think "she must not be that good cause she's cheaper than most," and in theory lose out on the versatility of clientele.
I charge not only what I feel I am worth, but what I feel my work is worth. At the same time, I charge what I feel is affordable to most. Deciding this is so hard. But being confident in my decision as a photographer gives me confidence to prioritize my own wants, needs and dreams, within my business and my personal life. This has come especially handy in choosing a photographer for my own wedding day.
So, here's the answer, to the question I never really even made clear, and really, I have no answers, so here's my advice. Relax. Whether you're a client looking for a wedding photographer, or a photographer looking for a client. Take your time. Set your priorities, be confident in your decisions, and always always be open to growth. To those people out there searching for the right photographer, look at not only images, styles and prices, but look at people. If it were possible I would say read their souls, but not everyone dumps blog posts out of their hearts like myself.
Let's go back to the question, " What would I want."
I want someone to document my day with photographs, I want someone who's excited for me. I want someone who knows what they're doing. I want someone who's on time, respectable, goes the extra mile, helps out, and isn't afraid to give direction. Someone who makes me feel comfortable, makes me laugh. Captures not only my emotions but the emotion of my soon to be husband, my family, and my friends, my daughter. Someone who guests feel is stealthy, but present. Someone personable. Someone with the ability to be at the right place at the right time, and know when to be there. Someone who isn't afraid to ask me to do something crazy, adventurous, or out of the norm, for a darn good picture. Someone I can trust. Someone who's passion for the art of photography is clear.
This is exactly what I strive to be as a photographer for each and every one of my clients and friends.
This post isn't to sell myself to you and convince you to "Hire me now! I'm so cool!" (Cool is literally the last thing on earth I'm feeling about myself right now.) This post is coming from a girl who's planning her wedding. A girl who's choosing a wedding photographer, as a wedding photographer. My advice to you is go with your heart. And let's be real, go with your budget. Prioritize. Out of all the amazing and talented wedding photographers you're surrounded in, choose the one you think will be there for you, and there for your day, not just there for the business. And be confident in your decision.