I'm not here to waste anyone's time with formalities and backstory of who I am and what my philosophies are. I'm here to tell you folks the reality of my first year in business as a portrait photographer in Kauai County, Hawaii.
I started with a photo shoot at Ha Coffee Bar on Rice Street in Lihue with a co-worker, a friend of a friend, and the first model to respond to my casting call from my previous life as a fashion & lifestyle photographer. Three completely different people, a makeup artist I've never worked with before, and a location I'm unfamiliar with. Awesome. (can you smell the sarcasm??)
When I finally got serious, I created a post on Facebook to see if folks would be interested in my products and services. WRONG IDEA, but I learned a lot from it.
I had a whole lot of no-shows, uneducated potential clients, and I was completely unorganized.
I did this from July - October 2015.
Then I started getting clients who WANTED my service and were willing to pay for it. HUZZAHHHH!!!
Buuuuuut my prices were too low and I was bleeding money from how I was selling my work.
So, like the genius I am, I took the entire month of December off to regroup. GREAT IDEA.
The beginning of 2016 was slow, I'll admit. I worried about whether or not I'd have clients, whether or not I would fail in a couple weeks, whether or not my prices were too low or high. But I'll tell ya something... Whenever I received a phone call or inquiry, I felt like a total BADASS LADY BOSS. (it's the small victories right?)
I ended up with some personal struggles that had me unable to perform ANY work at all. So I had NO bookings in March. Like. At all.
April, I decided I needed a break. I went home to CA to heal, to try to make some money with folks who I grew up with, and then spend the rest of my time photographing my friends. My childhood friends. And my love and passion reignited.
May and June have been blissful thus far. Sure I'm not shooting every single week, but ALMOST!!
Owning a business is HARD. It feels like a roller coaster, and I teeter-totter between doubting myself and feeling SUPER confident. Having a good support system is also almost necessary for this. If the people around you don't believe in you, it's MUCH harder to succeed... Especially when you're opening up shop in the living room in your 1 bedroom home.
The struggle is so real. It is. I've dealt with pretty awkward and embarrassing experiences. Don't believe me? I'll list a few:
1. I did my very first Facebook portfolio building photo shoot on the Saturday that my gardeners came and made my entire house smell like lawn clippings and dirt. Also, it was SO noisy. PS. I have never shot on a Saturday since)
2. My house is in a fishbowl valley. So it gets REALLY hot. I bought a $300 AC unit and it's barely strong enough to keep my clients cool (and it's only pointing at them! I'm a sweaty monster obvi). In fact, it doesn't because most my clients end up sweating.
3. Small windows. As a natural light photographer, having small windows is the worst. Light barely bounces, and I've had countless photo shoots where I struggle with having enough light. (To combat this, I've bought giant reflectors, AND a fluorescent light)
4. 9x9 feet. Yup. That's the amount of space (in it's entirety) that I work in. That includes hairstyling and makeup. It used to be much MUCH less space.
By no means is my business "booming". I like to call it a flow. It flows in and out as it should. If I've learned anything in the first year, it's to keep on keeping on. Hustle, give love, and give a damn good product for what you have.
The rest will follow. (Watch, I'll post this and this time next year, I'll be out of business HAHAHA)
I'm aware I have a sick sense of humor.