Sometimes I have to stop and catch my breath when I realize how far my business has come lately. I humbles me. It makes me eternally grateful that after a few years of trial and error and struggling here and there, I finally found my groove. I somehow survived where so many others have crashed and burned and I am really proud of myself for staying the course when it could have been so easy to give up so many times and just go work for someone else.
Returning home last night after shooting a wedding, I went downstairs to Greg’s man cave, grabbed an ice cold beer from his giant beer fridge, and plopped myself down beside him on the couch. Sigh. What a great day! It was good to be home, but the day was amazing – despite a full on thunder and lightening storm complete with torrential downpour during the outdoor ceremony. The main reason, though, Ian (my youngest brother and most excellent second shooter) and Grace (my beautiful, attentive, witty, hard-working assistant).
Ian not only provides me with creative company while shooting – a great guy to bounce ideas off of – but whenever I feel my creative energy being zapped and just need a break, he’s always there to jump up with his camera and get to work while I chill for a bit. I don’t know if he understands how helpful that is, but it makes a giant difference in how smoothly the day flows. His constant back up keeps my energy level up and keeps me calm because I know that I can count on him when I need to. He’s hilarious too and he keeps me chuckling all day long. Yesterday, while we were rushing through some wedding party shots before it started to pour, yet again, he put on his best Clint Eastwood voice and said, “Nobody blinks. Nobody gets hurt.” That kid makes me laugh! I also trust him, implicitly, to take all the detail shots – dress, shoes, rings, decorations, cake, flowers, centerpieces, etc. if I don’t have time (and, often, even when I do) because he has an amazing eye for them and he can always find a new way to put a creative spin on the same old same old. 🙂 Lastly, he’s worked with me enough now that he understands my weird hand signals and eye movements (most of the time) or he just anticipates what I want him to do and does it without me having to tell him. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to work with someone, especially a sibling, so closely and be so in sync. It often boggles my mind that there are nearly 20 years between us because I feel like he’s so much older than he really is when we’re working and I, honestly, don’t know what I would do without him.
And then there’s Grace. I hired her back in January on a really sporadic basis to assist me with Boudoir shoots. I needed someone to set up lights, rearrange sets, help pose my clients, hold the fan, hold my reflector, etc. and she wanted to learn more about photography, so it seemed like a win/win. I was wrong. It’s way more, for me at least. She’s so quick to learn and it took no time at all for her to start anticipating what I needed during shoots. Now she does things I don’t even ask her to do, but want her to do anyway. I’m fairly sure she can read my mind and I’m stoked about it. Her learning curve with me is steep, but she’s been hauling ass up the mountain from the word go! I’ve recently started using her for weddings to carry around our gear, help with the lighting, and even pick up a camera when there is time for her to practice. I’ve noticed two things about Grace during weddings – she never complains, even when she’s carting around 20 to 30 pounds of equipment in stifling heat and she is just as amazing as Ian at taking those time-consuming detail shots that usually take up too much of my precious time. Yesterday I handed her one of my cameras and told her to go to town on the bride’s accessories (dress, ring, jewelry, clutch purse, etc.) and the photos she ended up taking were spectacular. I concentrated on the dress and the bride and took a minimal of other detail shots and she let her creativity flow and thoroughly impressed me!
Last night, as I sat on the couch, nursing a beer and hanging out with Greg, I thought about what success means to me and I realized my definition has changed – broadened – since the last time I thought about it. It’s not longer just about evoking emotion from my clients and thriving in my business. My idea of success has evolved to involve bringing other people along for the exhilarating ride and sharing my experience along the way. I am feeling so fulfilled today because I have Ian and Grace right there with me, sharing in my experience. When I feel successful, they feel it too and I hope they realize that it is due, in a large part, to having them along for the ride. They are, in my mind, totally indispensable and I ridiculously grateful for both of them. Success comes in many forms. For me, it has come in the form of two awesome assistants who make my life a whole lot easier. 🙂
Good night my friends. I wish you all enough…