Recently, the idea of being young and creating a business has been something on my heart and I had a friend ask what some things that I have learned as a young artist were. Though this list is incomplete, I hope that this will be encouraging to those who read it.
Age has nothing to do with success. Undoubtedly, understanding this concept and embracing it has been one of the most beneficial and difficult things. Because most of the photographers I admire began their businesses at an age significantly older than myself, I found myself becoming caught up in the mindset believing that age is a direct correlation to success due to prospective clients or vendors backing out after finding out my age and close friends continually believing that this was merely a hobby of mine with the phrase “for fun” tacked onto descriptions and introductions.
Rather than spending time perfecting my craft and learning business, I spent a significant amount of time believing that age was a hindrance. Thankfully the opposite is true! Being young is such a gift financially and time-wise because you’re given the opportunity to grow and learn about yourself. I had to learn that to be perceived as professional, I had to act professional. This meant, intentionally learning to create art rather than just images, investing money into my craft through gear and learning, crafting a presence that could be respected. At the end of the day, photography has little to do with my age – me, at all. I want my business to be a reflection of me, yes, but I want to also love my client well and I found that I cannot do this if I am overly focused on myself.
Fear is a good sign. At least twice a year, once every spring, and once every autumn, I find myself doubting whether or not I should be an artist. I am about ready to throw in the towel. But, fear is also a sign of growth, an indicator. You cannot grow without growing pains, and I firmly believe that questioning and doing some heart-searching twice a year on whether or not to continue is a good sign and absolutely necessary if one wants to continue in their creative pursuits. Steven Pressfield, in his book “War of Art” says this: “If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.”
Community is Key. Specifically where I live, there are not many creatives who live down the street. By creatives, I mean individuals within the wedding industry pursuing similar goals and have who have the same mindset and passion in their approach as I do. This past year, I realized how fundamental being a part of a community of creatives is, and it sparked something within me. Though my mom was not impressed that I was inviting strangers to coffee over Instagram and e-mailing people I had never met, doing this brought on tremendous growth in character, people skills, and in my business. Rather than seeing peers within the industry as competition or being intimidated by them, becoming friends with these folks has been so refreshing for my heart and key in my business because it gave me the comfort in knowing “I’m not the only one”.
Hustle, stay humble, and remain thankful. This mindset changed me, and in turn, directly affected my business. Doing work that goes unnoticed, spending hours fixing things in photoshop, and picking up the slack while balancing e-mails, culling a wedding, networking, and meeting with clients are all a part of this business. Learning to balance all of that in the midst of life is something that takes a whole lot of hustle and a whole lot of humility. And there are days where you gotta give yourself a whole lot of grace.
But realizing that I am not my own and that this pursuit is to be used to love others well and bring glory to God has shaped me. How I make financial decisions, my interactions with those within the industry, and the way that I write a mere e-mail is all because of that mindset. And though there is a lot of discouragement, seemingly endless lists of to-dos, and a lot of hustling, there’s a lot of joys too. I am grateful beyond belief for each person who have entrusted me with the opportunity to photograph them, those who’ve taken time out of their days to meet with me and for those who’ve been cheering me all along the way as I pursue what I love. What a privilege this all is.