We’re in the middle of a series for photographers and aspiring entrepreneurs called “Making the Leap” where we’re sharing our ten practical steps for going from part-time photographers to full-time. Or, as author Jon Acuff puts it, going from your day job to your dream job without it becoming a nightmare. If you’re just joining us, you can catch up here:
Making the Leap
Step 1: Get Debt Free
Step 2: Get a Mentor
Step 3: Get Educated
Step 4: Get the Necessities
Step 5: Get a Team
Step 6: Get Branded (Part 1)
Step 6: Get Branded (Part 2)
Step 7: Get Busy Loving Clients
Step 8: Get in Community
Step 9: Get a Fresh Perspective
Step 10: Get to Praying
As consumers, we all know what effective branding looks like, because we see it every day. A few branding titans probably even come straight to mind. Coca Cola’s light refreshing happiness. Apple’s sleek sophisticated simplicity. Disney’s magically imaginative brightness. But if we all know what effective branding looks like, then why aren’t we all creating it, too? Because, first, you have to know why you’re in business, and most people never take the time to do that.
Part 1: Start With Why
Take some time to really think about why you started your business. You can’t identify your brand until you identify your why. What are you passionate about? What kind of impact do you want to make? When we sat down to really think about this for ourselves, we came up with our three main whys. Hopefully reading our whys will help get your wheels turning and get you started on yours.
So why are we in this business?
Why 1: We Want to Be Together and Continually Strengthen our Own Marriage
When we started dating our senior year of high school, we spent as much time together as humanly possible: before school, during class, in-between classes, at lunch, and after our dance and soccer practices at night. We couldn’t get enough of each other — and we still can’t. Way back then, we set a goal for our relationship that’s been our North Star ever since: spend as much time as we can together. Every decision we made then (and every one we make now) was filtered through the same lens: Will this maximize the amount of time we get to spend together? It’s why Jordan decided to come home from college in California. For us, the more time we spend together, the closer we become, the less we’re like two, and the more we’re like one. As full-time professional photographers, we work from home and spend all of our time together, which, in turn, has strengthened our marriage and helped us become a resource for other couples. Which leads us to our next why…
Why 2: We Believe in Marriage and Want to Encourage Other Couples
When we got engaged our senior year of college, we couldn’t wait to get married the next summer and build a new life for ourselves, and even though our pre-marriage counselors had their concerns about us, we took the plunge anyways! At first, everything was new and exciting. We spent time decorating our first apartment, grocery shopping and learning to cook, divvying up cleaning and laundry assignments, budgeting our money and organizing our belongings, and finding common ground on TV shows. With every passing day, even when life got harder, our marriage got better. We grew closer, like a real team, more and more in love. We believe that marriage can be the ride of a lifetime, and we feel so blessed by ours that we want to be there to love, support, and encourage other couples in theirs, too. As wedding photographers, we get to do that from the start. We get to meet the greatest couples at the beginning of a new chapter in their love stories and get to know them on a personal level. We get to share our marriage with them, and cheer them on during their wedding day. One of our brides sent us this text message one night, months after her wedding, and it made us indescribably happy to know that we’d made a difference:
“Marriage ROCKS!!! It really does!!! Seriously, no one told us how awesome it was until we met you guys!!! And even then words can’t describe how amazing it is to be married!!!”
Why 3: We Want to Preserve Couples’ Memories and Make a Lasting Impact
It’s NO secret that we’re all about preserving couples’ memories, starting with our own. We’ve got tubs and tubs FULL of notes, letters, pictures, ticket stubs, newspaper clippings, rings, medals, t-shirts, and loads of other memorabilia that tell the stories of our life. We’re so into keeping memories that we even coined our very own memory preservation system: The Pink Slip Files. You could make the argument that we were in the business of preserving memories before we were actually in the business of preserving memories, and there’s really nothing better than getting paid to do what you love. As professional photographers, we get a thrill from taking fresh, timeless, emotional photographs that help clients relive moments and memories forever and ever. There’s nothing quite like the look on a bride’s face when she sees herself on the back of our cameras on a wedding day, or the smile across a grandmother’s face when she sees her entire family tree in one frame, and that’s why we love what we do. We get to capture the most special, intimate and meaningful time in our clients’ lives, and give them something that will last a lifetime.
If you’ve never written down your why before, do it this week. Carve out a few hours, go to your favorite quiet place, and write down the three reasons why you do what you do as a photographer. Then, put them somewhere visible, like in your office or on your fridge, so you’re reminded of them every day. Your why will be the fuel that drives your how. It’ll keep you going. It’ll sustain you. It’ll be the one thing that propels when you feel like giving up.
So, write it down. This week. On paper. On purpose. And share your why with others: your family, friends, blog readers, and even us! We’d love to hear what drives you in your business! Go to our contact form, email us your why, and let us be part of this journey with you!
Here’s What’s Next…
Once you’ve got your why, how do you turn that into a brand? Next, we’ll tackle the other half of Step 6: Get Branded.
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Thanks for checking in, friends! Have a great week and serve on!