The one question I never know how to answer

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There’s a funny question that I get asked quite often. And it’s not funny because it’s a strange question to ask, it’s funny because I truly don’t know how to answer the question.

When people ask me how long I’ve had my photography business, I laugh a little. You see, there wasn’t a defining moment where I decided, “Hey! I think I’ll start a photography business!” For lack of a more creative way to describe what actually happened… we’ll just call it a journey, because that’s truly what it was.

Let me take you back to the beginning, when I purchased my camera in early 2010. Shortly after, I photographed friends and referrals from friends for $25 here and $75 there. I drafted up invoices through a free online service with a logo that I created in Photoshop Elements. I then emailed them off to clients through my custom, photo-gmail account! I started a blog and created a Facebook page. I knew nothing about the business side at this point, I was just creating images and charging for my time. Was this the start of my business?

About a year later I got my business license and became an official business in the eyes of the state. I shot my first wedding, created portrait collections for clients, reached a bit of an organic audience, and had an actual website! Buuut I still didn’t know much about how to run a successful business. Was this the start of my business?

Two years after that things began to change. I started to understand business marketing, and the importance of creating a branded online presence. I had workflows in place, a close community of professional colleagues, consistent work and returning clients. Soon after, I left my day job to become a full-time wedding and lifestyle photographer. Was this the start of my business?

Much to my surprise, the journey continues to this day. I always thought I would have that moment of, “I made it, this is what it feels like to be on top!” But that’s just not the case. Owning a business is a continual journey of learning, growing, and changing. So the short answer? Well, there isn’t one … it’s been an ever evolving journey from the moment I picked up my camera. Maybe I didn’t have a business or marketing plan in place when I first began, maybe I didn’t know anything about bookkeeping, profit margins or what ROI meant …but I was creating the foundation for where I am today and where I’ll be in another six years.

So what do I say to people when they ask how long I’ve been in business? I tell them, “It’s been six years of learning, growing, and creating what I have today.” The most beautiful thing about creating something out of nothing is that nobody else has your story or journey. It’s different for all of us and that’s something incredible to embrace.

  • Kelli - I love this! It is so true! Photography is something that we continually grow and learn in!ReplyCancel

  • Laura Matney - Congratulations on an exciting journey!ReplyCancel

  • Heather Kirtland Gerkin - So true! I love your response! I liken it to people asking me how long a painting takes me. :-)ReplyCancel

  • Justine Hwang - I totally hear you! My first “business” moment was advertising and selling hand made cards and hand made “rubber stamps” made out of styrofoam meat trays to my Grade 4 classmates, advertised in our class newspaper, back in 1986. And there have been many moments since then of “already living the dream” :) Thanks for sharing it’s really about the journey!ReplyCancel

  • Rosaura Unangst - TRUTH.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Olsen Potter - Love this! Such truth about our journey! ;)ReplyCancel

  • Colleen - I struggle with this as well.
    “I was creating the foundation for where I am today…” Can i just say how much I love this?ReplyCancel

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