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Dear New and Aspiring Photographer

Dear New and Aspiring Photographer....
I was you, not so long ago. I wish that I knew then what I know now. But maybe I wouldn't be where I am now if I new what I knew now. In the end, I hope that I can help you, even if just a little bit, to understand the basics of what this new found love entails. 
You're going to feel like a tiny bug in a great big world. Think, "It's a Bugs Life" and imagine it's real life. It's kind of like that. Between the hundreds of other photographers in your community and the constant "let's all look like each other"'s a never ending world. 
...don't fall into it. 
You are a beautiful bug -- and though you are but little, you are mighty when you realize that you are different than the rest.
You're unique.
You have your own style.
You don't have to edit like everyone else.
You don't need those $100 presets and actions or those $25 fake sky backgrounds.
You don't have to use 1,000's of photo props and wonder where on earth you're going to store them.
You don't have to have the best camera on the market.
You don't have to do everything -- maternity, newborn, wedding, family, boudoir....
...scratch that....
you can't do everything.

Take a deep breath. 
Count to 10. 
I'm about to simplify your life in 2 minutes flat.
  • You don't need the best camera in the whole world. In fact, I've been doing this for 5 years now and I just upgraded to a "professional" camera 2 months ago. For this entire time I have used the lowest man on the totem pole when it comes to cameras. I invested in a nice lens and tried my best in every way possible to make it work. You'll have struggles, you'll wish you had a better camera -- but when you learn your camera, front to back, inside and outside, you'll own it. I mean really, rock it.
  • You don't need to use fake skies and presets/actions. In fact, most of the time, they look awful. Don't waste your money on someone else's style. Did you hear me? Don't pay for someones style when it's not your own. Nine times out of ten, you'll end up ditching those actions and presets in a year, because you either hate them, don't understand how they work, aren't the proper colors for the lighting, or aren't your style....period. Your clients want you to capture them. They don't want someone else 1,000 miles away to capture them and make their photos over saturated and dated.
  • You don't need props in every single photo session. Please don't go out and spend a ton of money on them. You won't use half of them. Kids will end up throwing them all over the place (don't buy anything breakable!). You'll use them for mini sessions and special occasions, but your photography business is not dependent upon what props you do or don't have. If clients pass you up because you don't have the props they want, then they aren't truly in this to capture their family. Yes, try to make things work, but don't bend over backwards.
  • Own your own style. If you don't know what your style is, figure it out. The moment you stop trying to edit your photos and take photos the same way everyone else does, is the very moment you begin to own your own style. It's the very moment you start succeeding, becoming less stressed, and people really start noticing you. You're unique, embrace it!
  • Realize that other photographers aren't your competition. You are your own competition. There is no competition when it comes to art. We all have different ways of doing things and that's what makes this business so incredible. Van Gogh did not care about other artists, and look at his work now. You should feel the same exact way.
  • Worry less about being famous and making money, and more about making your clients happy. Yes, make them pay you. I'm not telling you to do stuff for free. But spend more time worrying about perfecting your style, connecting with your clients, and really being in the moment with them.
  • Don't do stuff for free. You're a business, artist, and great person. You wouldn't expect someone to make a portrait of you for free, so why should your photography be free? You put hard work and time into it -- value yourself, and others will value your work for the price that you set. You'll attract the people you want by the price and standard that you set of and for yourself.
  • It's ok to say no. And sometimes it's better off. Sometimes clients aren't a good fit. Sometimes they're going to cause you more drama than necessary. And sometimes, you're just overwhelmed and need to take a step back. Do it. Re-coop. And then come back swinging.
  • Find your niche and stay there. You can't do everything, nor should you try to. Find what you love and what you're good at -- maybe it's families, maybe it's weddings. Whatever it is, own it, rock it, perfect it, and your business will flourish. 
There are so many more things I wish I could say to you. It is a never ending learning process. But know this....

be kind in all that you do.

be patient with everyone.

never compare yourself to someone else unless it is to better yourself.

do what you do and be good at it.

but most of all, never stop learning. 

Because the moment you do, is the moment you fail.

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