Setting Business Boundaries And Overcoming “Start-up” Negativity
Photo from Wooten Photography
Originally Posted On: https://www.wootenphotography.com/blog/guest-feature/
expertise, and general business advice! Check out some of the questions we have answered, and listen to the audio for more.
Q: TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR BACKGROUND
Joann: We specialize in weddings and portraits, style photography, family portraits and things like that, but mainly with the emphasis on weddings. And we also provide education for aspiring photographers, like I mentioned earlier, through MOCA Creatives.
I got into photography because I was that friend. I was that friend among that group with the camera. Every time without fail, if there was a party, if there was something going on, people would ask like, “Oh, is Jo going to be there?” And if she is all right, we know the moment is going to be captured. I always had the latest phone tech, and phone quality with crazy megapixels, which back in the early 2000s was not much compared to the 2022 now.
Going into wedding photography specifically, it really didn’t dawn onto me that I was interested in it until after my husband and I got married and I mentored under my wedding photographer.
She kind of just showed me the ropes and got me into it and just kind of teaching me the etiquette of the industry. And as I started to post pictures on line and things like that, it just grew from one thing to the next.
And I continued under mentorship, under different photographers of different calibers here in the Atlanta area. But yes, I hope that is just about me.
Q: HOW IMPORTANT IS MENTORSHIP IN PHOTOGRAPHY?
Joann: Mentorship is one of the crucial points in to fully understanding what you’re getting into, without necessarily overcommitting kind of thing.
I was starting off small scale, like intimate weddings, backyard weddings. My friends who are getting married, , and who trusted me at the time they captured their special day. I started off small and that was kind of important, but it really took my experience and skill set to the next level when I went into mentorship and investing in education, investing in programs that allowed for me to, expand my skillset and knowledge base on wedding photography specifically.
And so that included workshops that included getting into programs, program platforms and especially when I started coaching wasn’t as big as it is now.
And still there is a lot of platforms out there that offer coaching services of one from one degree to the next. And so, yes, out to answer your question, I would say, yes, mentorship is important into getting into photography in general. You can’t do that on your own. And I don’t claim to do it on my own because had it not been for a few people I wouldn’t be where I am at for sure.
Q: WAS THIS ENTIRE PROCESS DIFFICULT TO LEARN?
Joann: It’s not that it was difficult because I had a passion for it. I feel like when you have a passion for something, oftentimes learning the craft isn’t always as difficult as people make it seem. But it is challenging. It is challenging in the sense of, just like I mentioned before, expanding your knowledge base and your skill set. Right. Whenever you’re learning something new, it’s never going to be perfect the first time.
And the crazy thing is, is that at the time you’re hyping it up like it’s the best thing ever. Right. You don’t realize, until you look back five years from now, you’re like “Whoa, I came a long way”
But I would say it it’s it was challenging. It was some aspects of photography was challenging to learn and to master. But I do believe that my passion for it is what kind of helped drive my motivation to want to continue learning, to want to continue practicing and applying what I learned.
But oftentimes you have some aspiring photographers coming into the world of photography for the sole focus of gaining income quickly.
That can easily make the job harder because the intention and the passion needs to be redirected.
Q: HOW DID YOU BUILD YOUR “BUSINESS BOUNDARIES”
Joann: I didn’t understand the concept of boundaries within business. I just figured and thought, “Hey, if somebody wants my services, I need to be readily available at anytime, anywhere.”
In the beginning I felt I need to be where folks are, where they need to be ready to shoot their session and for as little amount as I want to retain these clients.
I think the first I the realization for selling my service was narrowing down. Because in the beginning I was doing maternity, I was doing weddings, I was doing family, I was doing newborns, I was doing events, I was there. The saying goes, “If you’re a master at everything, you’re an expert at nothing” or something like that.
And it’s so true because I had my hands in so many different pots that it was hard for me to market myself as someone valuable because everyone had access to me. Of course, everyone had access to me because I did everything and everyone had access to me because I was available.
I didn’t protect the time that my family had with my kids or my husband because I was so into thinking, into the mindset, thinking for me to better position myself, I have to be readily available at anytime, anywhere.
Once I started to niche down and I specifically understood that my virtual storefront or Instagram, my virtual storefront or Instagram was primarily wedding related. And more importantly, within myself, I saw that my passion lined with weddings, and that’s when I started to narrow down, niche down and focus on weddings.
And so as a consumer and understanding that, I know that this is what other people see as well, they want to be able to say
“Okay, what is she good at? Yeah, she takes all these other things, but what is she good at?” What does she really have a passion for?”
Once I started to narrow down the focus to weddings and specializing in weddings, I did notice that our clientele started to pick up because there was evidence to show that this is what we specialize and this is what my main focus is, is providing wedding photography service.
Q: TALK TO US ABOUT HOW YOU RESPECT YOUR VALUE IN PHOTOGRAPHY
Joann: It’s personal, right? For me when I was getting married, almost going on eight years ago when I was getting married, I didn’t see the value in floral. I didn’t, I just knew that I wanted six tables to have a centerpiece floral arrangement of some degree. But that I didn’t see a value in in floral. It wasn’t a big thing for me.
Value to certain things is personal. And when I see someone who says “I just don’t see the value, photography is a scam, I just don’t see why I have to pay 3k or $3,000 or $4,000 or $8,000 for somebody to take pictures.” I cannot I am not in the job or the industry to convince you of value in photography.
When you look around you everywhere, you see evidence of photography, whether it is in the grocery store, whether it’s in the mall, whether it is on television, photography is everywhere and It’s become so normalized and easily accessible.
My job is never to convince a client to see the value in photography. If they don’t see a value, I will know. I will typically know this within the first 5 minutes of meeting them and then, speaking their opinion or their perspective on photography.
It is not that I am dismissing anyone who may not see the value, but this is after demonstrating the value that my company can provide to them with my services.
So, whether it comes to picking the photos and editing the video, the video footage, all of that, all you’re left with is your pictures, those memories, the legacy that you build. For some folks, they see the value in that and are willing and ready to invest. And others just don’t see it as that and that’s okay.
Q: IF YOU CAN GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOURSELF?
Joann: If I could go back and tell myself as pick it up before picking up that camera, I would tell myself, go to therapy. And I say this because in that venture of starting. I was easily deflated by people.
Commentary, perspectives, thoughts, and opinions. I was heavily driven by what other people thought. And so, the moment I was excited and I took pictures, even though some people were like “I was mediocre, this is basic”. But I did encounter an individual or an individual who completely deflated me and said to me literally, “Yeah, I’ll, I’ll think of booking you when you get better equipment.”
And in that moment, I didn’t realize how much that rejection hurt and how much it was, how it influenced me, so much so that I put my camera down for two years and I figured, this isn’t for me.
Maybe I just need to continue on with life as I did. I got my degree, I gave birth to our first daughter, I was just cruising comfortably. It wasn’t until the photography came back, you actually bringing it to my attention and encouraging me to pursue it.
And with the motivation of knowing that, “Hey, I’m in my prime, I need to get back into it”. I feel like if I went to therapy, I would have more confidence in myself and more understanding and self-awareness to understand that people’s opinions and perceptions of me is not my reality.
Sometimes I look back and I say to myself, “Man, what if I had continued and didn’t stop for two years, two and a half years, what if I had continued? Where would I be now?” But God’s timing is the perfect timing and perfectly good that I needed that experience.
You can’t be as successful in your business unless you are successful with your personal well-being, your personal, mental and emotional health.
Wooten Photography provides wedding, elopement, intimate, and engagement photography services in the Atlanta area. We also travel upon request! Check our full portfolio gallery to see our work!