For a few months now, I have been a part of a small Mastermind group of female entrepreneurs who all happen to be photographers. A topic that comes up frequently is how little time we spend photographing families/weddings/businesses and how much time all the behind-the-scenes stuff actually takes. There are pros and cons to living that entrepreneur life that most people don’t take into consideration when looking at a photographer’s portfolio.
My friend Jaye, a family photographer in Westchester NY explains it much more eloquently than I do. Take it away, Jaye!
Recently, an old law school friend of mine, making small talk before dinner with a larger group of friends, asked me how often I worked. I proceeded to tell her that I usually book 2-3 family photo sessions per week, and that each one runs about an hour or two. At that point, a few more friends joined us and the conversation shifted. But before it did, I made a quick realization based on the look in my friend’s eye.
She thought that was it. She, and probably most other people whose understanding of what I do as a self-employed family photographer is based on my small-talk descriptions and what I share on social media, think that I just show up and take the pictures. They actually think that’s the whole job.
That realization stayed with me for a while. Thankfully, I absolutely love what I do and I’m completely secure in my decision, almost 10 years ago, to leave my career as a patent lawyer and become an entrepreneur. I don’t feel the need to defend my choice or to explain what a small percentage of my time is spent actually taking photos.
It’s just funny, though – the kind of funny that fuels the kinds of conversations you’d have with a fellow creative entrepreneur at those all-too-infrequent networking meet-ups and conferences. “They have no idea,” we might say.
If I had continued the conversation with my friend and wanted to illustrate to her how far from the truth her impression was, I might do it by comparing my business to hers. She’s a patent lawyer for a large pharmaceutical company. So, her job is to manage and protect the company’s intellectual property rights. The company, though, has lots of people who do other things.
Someone does the research that identifies the drug targets.
Someone else researches the compounds that will interact with those targets.
Someone figures out the safe and efficacious dose.
Someone actually manufactures the pills.
Someone submits all the paperwork for approval.
Someone designs the packaging.
Someone monitors quality control.
Someone seeks and negotiates partners.
Someone creates a marketing strategy.
Someone designs the website and sales materials.
Someone promotes the drug.
Someone educates medical professionals and consumers on the drug’s use.
Someone takes the sales orders.
Someone else fulfills the sales orders.
Someone is in charge of shipping.
Someone does all the calculations for costs, earnings, profits and taxes.
Someone handles customer service.
Phew. The list could go on, of course. And really, “someone” in each of those roles is really a whole department of people.
I know, I know. What’s the point of comparing a huge, multimillion dollar global pharmaceutical company to my little local homegrown business?
Well, the point is that it is a business. And just like any business, its operation requires a long list of things that must be done to get from an idea to a profit. And that, in my little local homegrown business, it’s my job to do allllllll those things.
I’m not going to bother listing out all the “business-y” things I do in any given week. I’m lucky in that I actually do really like the “business” side of owning a business. But I’m certainly not blind to the fact that that side’s just not as heartwarming to look at as the actual photos my little business produces. I’m really OK with that. So that’s what I’ll continue to share. But my fellow photographers and I, we know.
Thank you so much for guest blogging, Jaye! Now, go check out her gorgeous work here.
"To say that I love each one would be cliche and a total understatement, but seriously... She nailed it. Being a photographer myself, I am very picky and searched dozens of photographers before coming back to lyndsay and booking her and I am so glad I did. I can't even remember the last time I hired a photographer and was this in love with the images and unable to pick just a few favorites. Thank you, lyndsay, for making the photo session easy (with 3 kids), fun and providing this mama memories for a lifetime.”
"Our images are so special and really captured our joy and the sweet personality of our little girl. Lyndsay did a great job going beyond the typical posed shots and making our photos feel authentic. We will treasure them forever."
- amanda, northborough
"We have done multiple sessions (family and newborn) and we’re so happy with the results. Lyndsay makes you feel comfortable and is able to truly capture the moment. We will have her prints hung in our house for years to come."
- beth - framingham
"We've done it all - newborn, maternity, cake smash, family photos - and every single time we are amazed by the quality of the end product. Lyndsay captures beautiful moments that we will treasure forever!"
- nicole - framingham
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