I don’t want to gain the whole world, and lose my soul. (tobyMac)
The content of this post has been weighing heavily on my mind lately. It’s not something I had really considered blogging, and have previously only shared with my husband and close friends. And then I did a shoot last night that touched my heart at its core, and brought to the surface so many feelings I’ve been brushing aside or trying to dismiss.
It has been a little over 7 months since I started shooting blogger portraits officially. I feel grateful for the opportunities I’ve been granted and the unique, inspiring people who have come into my life as a result. I’ve reached what seems to be a semi-critical tipping point in this journey where several people in my life have started asking me when/if I plan on quitting my day job. It seems to surprise (and possibly disappoint) them to hear that I have no intention of leaving my current position to pursue photography full-time.
Besides the fact that I truly enjoy my career in internet marketing, keeping photography as a side hustle just fits better with my priorities and lifestyle. I feel like there’s a stigma as a part-time photographer, or the implication that I’m not as dedicated or devoted because I haven’t given up my other job for it. Others might take one look at my calendar and think I’m out of my mind to work 9-5, shoot during my free time, and edit photos into the wee hours of the night (on top of trying to keep my own blog updated).
Would it be easier to manage my time if I wasn’t working another job on top of the photography? Of course! And I could probably start marketing additional photography services such as wedding coverage to make a bit of profit. But profit was not what drove me to become a photographer, nor does it dictate my choices now… and I’d very much prefer to keep it that way. To the outside eye, part-time photography might seem like an added burden or more difficult to maintain, but I find the exact opposite to be true. Doing photography part-time has given me the freedom to flourish in my work and feel more fulfilled in life.
My main reasons for starting the photography business were three-fold:
- Challenge myself creatively and have an artistic outlet
- Help bloggers who are truly passionate about their brand- regardless of the number of followers they have or how long they’ve been blogging
- Meet interesting people, make new friends, and showcase diversity in the Dallas fashion scene
I hope never to find myself in a position where sustaining a business financially would require compromising my integrity, or sacrificing ethics to keep bills paid. I’ve only ever wanted to help support other bloggers and artists, because the better we are all doing, the stronger our community will be as a whole.
I value my clients not because they have invested their money in me, but because I’ve invested my time and heart into them. I’ve seen new bloggers evolve into seasoned professionals, clients become more confident and self-assured with each shoot, and grown to care for each of them as friends. If someone decides that my style doesn’t fit their aesthetic or our schedules don’t line up, I love referring them to my other Dallas photographer friends (and do so often).
What I take extremely personally is when a photographer consciously tries to poach my clients. It’s hurtful to see the relationships I’ve built trivialized into a business opportunity for someone else. I truly believe in treating others how you wish to be treated and have, on multiple occasions, politely declined opportunities to photograph bloggers in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety. Having seen the darker side of this industry, there are days when I wonder if it would be better just to stick to blogging and stay out of the fray…
…And then I have an opportunity to do a photography session like last night’s. Dionne was one of my first clients and biggest supporters. I love our outfit shoots (and getting styling tips from her in the process). Yesterday, I had the privilege of shooting maternity/gender reveal photos of Dionne, her husband, and future baby girl. The joy of the shoot and light in their eyes quickly pulled me out of my funk.
Dionne may have started out as a client, but our friendship has grown so much through working together that I’m now privy to the most important moments and milestones in her life. If I wake up tomorrow and fashion blogging has become obsolete, or I realize I just can’t keep my head above water in the competitive “blogger photography” pool, I’ll be at peace knowing that I still have a terrific group of friends and my morals intact. And if all I have left to shoot are sessions like these… I will continue to count myself extremely blessed.
Congratulations to the Dean family! I cannot wait to meet the most fabulously-dressed baby girl in Dallas!