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A NEW BLOG SERIES: HINDSIGHT IS 20/20

My good friends (and very talented photographers), Tina, April, and I were chatting last month about ways to grow our blogs. Things we wanted to do with the future of our careers and whatnot, and we realized we shared a mutual desire to help other people who want to be photographers. Not in a train-your-own-competitors kind of way, but more in a we’re-all-in-this-together fashion.

You see, starting any kind of business is simultaneously scary, exciting, stressful, and overwhelming. But, I strongly feel that starting a photography business may be the best case example for that. Back when I started, I remember I would get queasy when I’d consider all the things I needed to think about: photo gear/equipment, continuing education, using/knowing the best software, establishing pricing, finding second shooters, equipment insurance, liability insurance, back-up equipment, having an emergency plan, meeting spaces, developing a portfolio, sample albums, developing a product offering, figuring out what companies to order products from, where to order prints, how to deliver prints, how to proof images with your client, the best way to host a consult…. seriously, this list could drag on foreverrrrrrr. And, while I by no means think that my way of doing things is better than any other photographer’s, I do think it is a way, and a way that works for me – which is, at the very least, something I would love to share with others considering a career path in photography.

We have aptly named this series “Hindsight is 20/20” – a clever phrase I learned during college from one of my favorite people in the whole wide world, my dear friend Jackie. And if you think about it for just one second you’ll realize it’s true – in hindsight everything is so much clearer. All the answers seem obvious. And so this series is born… all the things about owning a photography business I wish I had known.

But! All my readers aren’t photographers – or aspiring photographers – and I know that. So, these posts will only be once a month, or once every few weeks at most. They’ll be a short little tidbit…. just one thing that I wish I had known back when I started. Sometimes they’ll be business-related, other times they may be gear-inspired. And, of course, if there is something you’d like to know, feel free to email me.

Tip #1: People are (usually) nicer than you think.

When I first started photography, I remember being excited and completely elated at the prospect of having my own business – and in doing something I love, no less! But, every time I let this excitement get a little too far, I would rein it back in by thinking of all those things I needed to consider just to get this little business off the ground. Things like all of those I listed above (and so many more). As soon as these thoughts came rushing to my mind, my heart would sink. How does someone figure all this out? How do you learn the best album companies? Or how to price your work?

Of course, I searched the more obvious places – photographer resources like Professional Photographers of America (PPA.com) and online photography forums like Open Source Photo (http://opensourcephoto.net), and, while those were considerably helpful, sometimes also the rush of opinions – or geographically-specific issues – prevented them from being perfect resources. As I gained confidence, I eventually reached out to some fellow photographers, local people – people I could meet up with, offer free services for (second shooting? help around the office? carry your bags? no problem!). In a day and age where most people prefer an e-mail or text over a phone call or physical visit, I know that this idea seems daunting to some. But really, what do you have to lose? Worst case scenario? They don’t respond. And then what? You reach out to other people!

Not every photographer has the time or energy to respond to every question or offer to help. But, one of the most valuable things I learned was that there are plenty of people out there JUST LIKE YOU and they are perfectly willing to trade knowledge with you. When I moved to Philadelphia a few years ago I was particularly nervous because not only did I not know the city, I didn’t even know a soul in it. Who would second shoot for me? How would I learn about venues? How would I figure out the best locations for engagements, etc.?  Fortunately, I had a couple awesome photographers reach out to me when I got here, and then I fell into a group like Philly Photo Betties – which is all about sharing knowledge and helping each other. Eventually, I even met friends who have become some of my closest friends in the area – and yes, they are technically my competitors. But it doesn’t matter because we are far stronger as a team than we ever would be individually. This open-book policy is something I’ve been pleased to find actually quite frequently throughout the photography industry and it is, perhaps, one of the things I love the most.

So, stop wondering and start asking! You might just be surprised to find how many people are ready to help.

Also, please note that Tina of Tina Jay Photography and April of April Ziegler Photography will also have their own takes on this same series on their blogs every month. Be sure to check it them out here and here.

Jennifer Parke - I am so excited that you are doing this! Thank you for sharing!January 19, 2013 – 7:21 AM

TGA - this is a cool idea! though I wish I had the same experience as you in terms of meeting other phtogs. I really haven’t met anyone that wants to be a friend unless you invest in their business first. interested to see the other hindsight 2013.January 29, 2013 – 1:56 PM

Wedding Invitations - It’s so great that you, Tina and April are getting together to do this. It opens up a lot of things that people don’t really foresee or consider. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to reading more soon from you and the others.February 2, 2013 – 9:12 AM

Rowland - I came along on you re page on purpose (guess it s a long way from Switzerland) Thx so much for sharing. For sure I will come back. Photography opens so many perspective . open eyes….. hidden things,,, thx again RowlandFebruary 14, 2013 – 11:58 AM

Melbourne Wedding Stationery - You have a very good vision. Good luck with your new endeavor.March 18, 2014 – 4:41 AM

GREENVILLE COUNTRY CLUB WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER: BECKI & JEFF

And, back to our regularly scheduled posting…. I am simply ecstatic to share with you Becki & Jeff’s wedding at the stunning Greenville Country Club in Delaware. I mentioned before that Becki is a former-coworker-now-turned-dear-friend and I was very excited (and very nervous!) to shoot her wedding. And, to no surprise, it was complete with a gorgeous setting (one of my favorite venues), unexpected fun surprises, and some pretty incredible dance-offs later in the evening. Take a peek!

And then onto the FIRST LOOK. Favorite!

Oh Becki, you’re so gorgeous.

And then it was onto the ceremony. Becki grinned all the way down the aisle. Complete perfection.

In the middle of dinner I convinced Becki & Jeff to sneak out to catch this sunset for just about a minute and half to grab this shot. In my opinion, totally worth it, no?

 

 

Kelly - That sunset shot is just one reason why you are the only photographer I want for my own wedding. And Becki – lady you look like a movie star. Love everything about these photos.January 16, 2013 – 2:18 PM

Alyssa - Love Becki’s wedding day look– her dress is so amazing!January 16, 2013 – 2:27 PM

B - LOVE that dress. WOW. Just stunning detail!!January 16, 2013 – 6:45 PM

Becki - Amanda, you’re making me cry all over again. THANK YOU. Couldn’t have asked for, nay, wished for (dreamed of?), better photography (the process, the technique, the images, the editing, YOU) to capture a day that I kept trying to play down (because “it’s about the marriage, not the wedding”) but have now come to realize is a day so unbelievably precious and important. Beyond grateful.January 16, 2013 – 8:25 PM

april - Absolutely stunning. All of it.January 17, 2013 – 7:43 PM

Cait - What a GORGEOUS wedding! Awesome shots! Their portraits are gorgeous Amanda!February 9, 2013 – 9:17 PM

PHILADELPHIA ENGAGEMENT PHOTOGRAPHY: SAM & JESSE’S VILLANOVA ENGAGEMENT

Where do I begin with Sam & Jesse? They are one of those couples that’s just so completely natural. One of those couples that, during their session, some of the best shots were them just being them. They decided to do their engagement portraits on Villanova Campus since that was where they both met and went to school, but their wedding would take place in the city instead. A nice tribute to the history of their relationship, if you ask me!

On the day of their session the gloomy skies hovered above us and at one point even rendered us stuck beneath one of the big, billowy trees on campus while it poured all around. Despite all that, Sam & Jesse were total troopers and – to be quite honest – rocked the dramatic weather like no other. Here are just a couple favorites from the afternoon.

 

REFLECTIONS, RESOLUTIONS, AND SQUISHY LITTLE CHEEKS

With every goal I ever set in life something feels more right about starting it with the beginning. A new month. A new week. A new day. Whatever the case may be, something about a new year just feels so much like a fresh start. Last year, I spoke a little about my thoughts on resolutions. And, I also bombed on mine. Big time. I did not forget about them or cast them aside, but found that life’s little unexpected surprises meant that other goals – goals that I didn’t even realize I might have last January 1st – would shift and take their place. I will say, however, that despite how thankful I am for 2012 and where it brought me, I still have that twinge of feeling a little bit like a failure. And, of course, there’s a someecard appropriate for pretty much every emotion you feel in life, yes?

While I am still working on tweaking just what I plan my priorities to be for this year, I am still reflecting on what a wonderful year 2012 really was. I was fortunate enough to work with so many amazing people – and gain so many incredible friends in the process. And with that, I simply cannot wait to see what 2013 has in store. Here’s wishing you and yours a wonderfully spectacular new year. Happy 2013, friends!

Becki - Failure schmailer. YOU ROCK. And you’re right: life has a way of changing our plans, however well-meaned. We can only be our best selves given our circumstances, and lady, you’re a winner in the “overall” category!January 17, 2013 – 6:03 PM

DECEMBER SELF-PORTRAIT: GREAT NEW HEIGHTS

It’s no big secret that I have a Thirty Before Thirty (TBT) list. I talk about it with relative frequency. And, with my pending age I should probably be working on it and talking about it even more than I have been. Which led me to do something… weeeeeeell, a little bit crazy this past weekend. You see, I am currently in a little old town called DeLand, Florida – the place of my birth – visiting family and friends from my childhood. And, while most people have never heard of this tiny little DeLand, those that have usually know it for one of two reasons (1) the home of Stetson University (go hatters!), or (2) the skydive capital of the world. Yep, truth: this tiny little town is the capital of the world in something. So, when “go skydiving” topped my bucket list of life goals it was probably only marginally shocking to some. To the rest of my family and friends, I think they were mostly just surprised that I actually went through with it.

And, thus, my December portrait was born. I might have slacked off for many months this year, but dang it with getting back into blogging I’m picking this project up right where I left it.

Here’s to testing many more great new heights in 2013. Just not literally.

For more information and a full explanation about the self-portrait project, please see this post.

Tina - OMG I had NO idea you were doing this! That’s awesome!!!December 26, 2012 – 10:49 AM

Liz - Go Amanda!! That is so awesome and you look like you’re having a blast!December 26, 2012 – 4:55 PM

TGA - this is awesome! we have two things in common now, photography and we’ve both jumped out of a plane. I sky dived for my 24th birthday. i jumped in new jersey.December 27, 2012 – 6:02 PM

Heather - LOVE IT! This is on my bucket list too!January 3, 2013 – 8:46 AM

F a c e b o o k