The Good, the Bad… and the Ugly.

 

 

So you started a photography business.  If you are anything like me – you started your business while you were still learning about photography. I am not afraid to admit I am still a little embarrassed of some of the photos floating around with my name attached to it.  The reality is that  I was inspired by the work of an amazing photographer that I knew in high school . As her photos popped up on facebook newsfeed -it awoke a deep yearning to embrace a passion that I held close to my heart.  Soon I e-mailed her with the same questions that drives the ” good ones” crazy. I asked what camera I should buy – because her photos were spectacular. She sent me off to go  buy  a consumer grade camera.  I am quite sure she laughed to herself as another MWAC (mom with a camera) thought that  if she buys a new camera she will now be a photographer.  So with my new gear on the way – I toyed around with different names for the company…Seesaw Photography (isn’t life a balancing act??) , Lighthouse Photography… hmmmm -what should I name my new company. I realized simple is better and  a week later my FACEBOOK page was born – Liz LaBianca Photography. I sent out my invites to come and “like” my page. ..and a few did – but most didn’t. OUCH! Well that hurt. Maybe they didn’t get the invite… maybe they aren’t on facebook. (I still haven’t had my original inspiration “like” my page…and yes – it still bothers me)… and so began my mantra “FOCUS on the positive  and keep moving forward.

Soon I approached three good friends and said “HEY!! I am starting a business – can I use your family to practice on”?? When I delivered the images from their shoots in a tacky plexiglass cd holder – Handing them the images  grinning from ear to ear – two of the friends handed me a check for $150…. I said “I can’t take your money”. They refused to take their money back and they said – They Believed in me and my business and wanted to support me.  So began the road – of the people who support you and the people who don’t.  The third friend got wind of it and stated that she would never pay $150.00 for photos and then begrudgingly offered to pay me. I refused the check  and unfortunately our friendship started to unravel. Was it her fault… absolutely not.  The reality is – starting my business was starting to make me ultra sensitive. Were people talking about me?? Were the putting down my art?? Did they think I was a horrible photographer” I started to see my friendships strain if they didn’t stroke my ego and keep  building  me up.  It was a difficult time. No longer was I being the friend that I used to be.   I went from being the girl throwing superbowl parties, book club parties, and sipping wine with the girls chatting about the daily struggles of being a stay- at- home mom. My world was consumed with learning everything I could about photography. If they didn’t believe in me – I was going to prove them wrong. They couldn’t see my soul and how I had just opened up a passion that was buried under a lack of confidence for 36 years.  Focus on the Positive… Keep moving forward.

2 weeks after starting my business – I received an facebook message from a friend I hadn’t spoken to in 16 years . She was asking me…in an ever so polite way. …” Didn’t I think it was cliche to be starting a business”. My response to her…. “Well… that is what is stopping you”.  ”Cliche is simply a word”. .. I told her  ”it is up to you how much power you choose to give it.  - 6 months later she asked me how she could start her own business – My advice to her was immediate: steer clear of words like “Cliche”.. Focus on the positive… Keep moving forward.

I started to look within myself as I struggled to understand why people weren’t reacting the way I had hoped that they would .I soon  remembered a time when I was younger – A co-worker would come in with bragging rights of finishing the local marathon that weekend. A weekend that I had probably spent drinking too much and making less then adult decisions.  Anyway – I would feel this thing well up inside… Was it jealousy – I guess it was…but it annoyed me.  I wished that I would have had the initiative to do something that challenged my physical and mental strength like running a marathon. But instead, that weekend and many other weekends I sat on my A**… Until 5 years later- I ran that marathon… ok so it was only a 5k… but I did it …and do you know what I realized. …. I HATE running. My point is this… Seeing you step outside of your comfort zone can be irritating to some people. So the only way that they can handle it – is by breaking you down, by putting you down. .. or simply by acting disinterested in what you are doing. I had one friend that every time I would run into her – I could feel her body tense up when I would mention my business and how much fun I was having.  I also knew that behind close doors – she was tearing down what I was doing. Did it bother me… not at all. I knew it wasn’t from a malicious place – it was from a sad place.

Through this experience you will realize who your true friends are. They are the ones who let you talk incessantly about your business, about new locations, or about tough clients.  . Not only do they listen – they ask questions because they are genuinely excited for you.They offer to babysit as you run out the door to another shoot. How blessed I am to have found amazing friends who know I don’t have time to be the “old” Liz – The Liz who planned playdates or remembered your  birthday. So thank you to Jenny Rackers, Sue Wolski, Mimi Park, Melissa Wechlser, Michelle Pierotti, Traci Wallace  and my lifelong friend Dana Bove.  All you truly need is a handful of solid friends – and  I feel fortunate and blessed for the friendships that I have with these woman. Find the ones that build you up and hold on tight. Make a point to stay interested in their life… and apologize  in advance for how scattered you will be this year.

and last but not least … Focus on the Positive and Keep moving forward!

 

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Brittany - I am so glad you posted this and I just happened to read it. When I was younger all I wanted to do was become a photographer. I did my first wedding at 17 and just new that is what I wanted to do. I decided to open a business and become so successful!! Then reality hit and none of my friends supported me. Few are far between did (and of course my mother) …but I always heard “anyone can take a picture.” I started feeling overwhelmed and then before I knew it everyone who had a camera was taking pictures and I was being criticized for what I charged. I finally have moved away from my home town and now I am proud to say I am restarting my business. Nothing makes me happier than taking photos and to read posts like yours make me feel 100% better. I just always need to remember to Focus on the Positive and Keep Moving Forward :)

Thanks, Liz.

Jenna - Thank you for this post…I can relate so much..it’s kind of scary….I have often thought of quitting photography….But my heart won’t let me….you have inspired me to keep going..any help or kind words of how I can improve would be appreciated…

Jenna

Melissa - Hi Liz,

I follow you on Facebook and I, too, am starting to dabble into the business. I’ve been at it for almost a year now – though not many shoots under my belt. I just want to tell you that I am so inspired by this blog post, I felt like you were speaking directly to me!!! Since I have been at it, all I feel is ‘jealousy’ and unsupportive people. Yes, I do have those that believe in me & are supporting me throughout my own process (one being my unbelievably amazing husband) but it’s the ones that are close knit to me that are the ones who are trying to tear me down! Saying “well, you must have an expensive camera”, etc.. Well, thank you for this – you have opened up some gates for me. I will take this blog (saved in my favorites!) and move forward!

Thank you for your inspiration!!

samantha streber - montgomery - I found you on my cousin’s fb page (Knitz/jess) – your work is amazing & this post comes at a wonderful time for me as I am just months into my new adventure <3

Brittney Davis - I know there must be so many that will benefit from this post, but I feel like you wrote it just for me! Thank you for remembering how you felt at the beginning of your journey and sharing it with those of us who are just starting. I can’t tell you how encouraging it is. :)

Jennifer - Perfectly written, Liz. You are an amazingly talented photographer and I’m glad that you kept moving forward (and stayed positive) its not always easy to do that in this business.

Clare - This is a great post, Liz. I was trying to think of a more profound response, but I have none. I’m so deep in the throes of doubt right now that this one just touched a nerve! Even though I’m technically a few years into my photography business, I still struggle with the issues you mentioned daily. Recently I’ve been falling into the WORST photographer trap, and that is comparing myself to others. I can’t tell you how many nights I lay in bed and ask myself why am I doing this, and if it’s really worth it, and am I even good enough? It’s hard! Luckily my family and friends have been nothing but supportive which is what keeps me going. But I’m not a mom, I’m not married, so when I spend my weekends taking pictures of other families, it really takes a lot out of me, emotionally and physically (toddlers are speedy!) because it’s not something I can personally relate to at the moment. And I know it shows in my work sometimes, so I relish this time of year after the insanity of Fall when the bookings slow to a trickle. I need the time to recharge, take photos for ME, and get inspired again. Family photography may not be my ultimate calling, but it’s the highway I’m on in this phase of my photography journey, so I’m giving it all I’ve got! Finding support in other photographers like yourself is invaluable, so thanks for sharing your journey – it’s nice to know we’re not alone in our struggles! And I hate running too :)

Bobbie Sue Baker - Liz, I know your pain firsthand. Although, my issue isn’t so much with my friends as it is my family..I think you hit something though when you said they don’t support you because they’re uncomfortable seeing you step outside your comfort zone.

I honestly think that single insight hits the nail on the head. And it is sad…these people who make up our lives…family & friends, should be the ones wanting to support us most. It’s unfortunate that isn’t the case. Add to the fact that the industry itself isn’t always so welcoming and this is a tough business to be in…but I agree, focus on the positive and on the beauty you create with your art and forget the rest. What’s most important is that you love what you do, and that you’re good at it.

You’re an inspiration for me. :)

Jessica - Wow Liz. Reading your post was like reading a narrative of my life at the moment. I’m trying to get my photog business up and running, and I have a couple of friends who think it’s grand, but others who seem really disinterested. It can make one feel pretty inadequate – years of a lack of confidence will do that, I guess. Your words were so gentle and reassuring to me. Thank you for sharing your experiences so openly. Your words offer some place for a noob like me to get a grip on where I am now.
Thanks a ton.
Jessica

Becca - Gosh. Well. You are amazing. I so wish we lived in the same
town because I would soo love to just sit down and talk.
I can relate so much to all you wrote. I grew up in San Diego
and my Dad bought me my first camera..fell in love. Graduated
with a degree in art and bounced all over the place. Once I had
my kids the camera found its way back into my hands..thank God.
But to be honest it’s tough..I want my biz to succeed..but once I
concentrate my time on it my family suffers and vice versa.
The desire to be a fabulous mom and a photographer is tough.
I’m totally rambling..but what I really wanted to say is this..

Thank you..thank you for sharing your heart. Thank you for
sharing your beautiful images..you are a true beauty inside
And i sure wish we lived in the same town because I have
no doubt we would have multiple coffee talks talking shop
and giggle about all the fun we’re having..and share all the
tough parts as well.

Thank you for gently kicking my booty to keep moving
forward..becuz I have a tendency to get stuck..on all sorts
of silly stuff.

Hugs and hugs,
Becca

Jen - Thank you Liz for these words of encouragement and for sharing your story! I can completely relate and it’s comforting to know we’re not alone on this journey.

Sue Wolski - Awww!! So nice! Thanks for listening to me for hours about a failed business idea and now a new venture beginning Monday! Thanks for all the amazing pictures you’ve taken of my daughters. I know they are beautiful, but you make them stunning!!! You have a gift and I am so happy for your success!!

Irene - Liz,

I just LOVED this post and completely relate. I mean COMPLETELY. Thanks so much for reminding me that I am not alone and some of those negative people in our lives are not necessarily mean people, but usually just sad and unhappy people. But it is still SO hard!!!!!

Irene

Janeen Cappelletti - I really enjoyed your post. You validated so many of things I have been feeling, I am only 6 months into my business. Thank you for sharing! Well said!
Best,
Janeen

Natalia - I have to say this is really great! I loved reading your blog. You are an inspiration.

I’m 18 years old. These days I’m feeling so sad because I think that I’m not getting the support I expected of my family. I decided that I want to be a photographer because it’s what I like to do, capture moments, but my family think that it’s not a good thing for me, they want seeing me as an engineer or something like it. I’ve talked to them about it but it didn’t work.

I was thinking that if I could open my own business, I could show them my goals. Maybe they could understand my choose. But I have a lot of doubts about what to do to open my own business. Please Liz, Could you give some advices about – how to start my own business? – I take pictures of my friends and their families but I don’t receive anything for it.

Thank you.

Brannan - Liz, I read this post last night and again tonight. I’m right in this place with my new photography business. I felt so defeated and lost over the last couple of days. I feel like I can’t get there fast enough…successful. Did I make the right decision by quitting my old life to follow my dreams with photography? Your words reassure me that what I am going through is normal and I just need to keep going. You are truly inspirational and thank you. This blog came at the perfect time!

Tyra - Hi Liz. I just happened to find your link on another FB page that I had “liked” and I am so grateful that I did. The words feel as though it was me that you were talking about. I have loved photography since I can remember and have recently decided to get into the business after much encouragement from my daughter. Even though I have had much encouragement from a selected few I also feel as if I have others that really like to find something to discourage me about everything from how much time I spend working on editing to spending to much money on props. I also feel as though I am my worst critic and find myself comparing my work to others and have a tendency to ask myself if I AM really good enough to do this. I know I have so much more to learn and I find myself not wanting to do anything else but learn all I can about it.
I could keep on talking but I really just want to say :
Thank you so much for sharing. You have helped more people than you know…especially me. :)
Tyra

Kelly - Thank you for writing this. I’ve been really wanting to start my own photography business but haven’t because I’m always questioning whether I’m good enough to be successful at it. I’ve got the equipment, the business license and the website url is purchased, but I just can’t find it in me to do it yet and make it official. I feel like if I tell people that I have a photography business, that I have to instantly be super successful at it and produce absolutely amazing photos. I’m finding it difficult to get past that fear that I can’t live up to others’ expectations. It’s so wonderful that you had the courage to make that leap of faith and then to be successful at it as well. Your work shows that truly are an excellent photographer. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and for sharing your talent!

LisaJ - Thank you. You have just nutshelled my entire last few weeks. You are awesome, honest, and appreciated!

Yukiko Centeno - T H A N K Y O U !
Godsent, needed to read that :)
It’s tough to handle being a mom and trying to start your own business, overwhelming to say the least.
I’m a graphic designer with a passion for photography ever since i got my hands wet and smelling like all the chemicals you need to develop photographs “the old fashioned way” in college :)
If you have a second please visit my website, would truly appreciate your thoughts.
Thank you again,

Yuki

Emily - Very inspiring! I so needed to read this, thank you for sharing!

Melinda - Hi Liz,
I just stumbled upon your blog and I know it was meant to be! This post truly spoke to me and I’m so grateful to you for sharing this part of your life with others.
I’m embarking on my own journey of becoming a photographer. I have been a stay-at-home Mom for the past 8 years, which I have sincerely loved being able to do, but I always felt that there was something else that I was meant to do. My love for photography has really grown over the past few years and recently I’ve realized that this is my true passion and what makes me extremely happy. Since deciding to make photography my career, I have gotten the not-so-nice comments as well. I’m super lucky though to have an amazing husband who has supported me and my dreams over these past 19 years, so having him behind me always helps when I’m discouraged. Without him, I probably wouldn’t have the courage to follow this pathway.
I know it will be difficult starting out, but I know that if I stick with what I sincerely love, my dream can come true!
Your post has really helped me tremendously and I thank you!
Have a lovely night.
Sincerely,
Melinda

Cynthi - Wow…I totally relate and agree with what you’ve said here. And it’s not always friends, it’s often family members that are not supportive. Owning my own photography business has been my dream since high school, but for years I was just too chicken. Putting myself, and my art, out for all to see (and judge!) has been one of the scariest things I’ve ever done! But I wouldn’t change a thing!

Thank you for writing what I’ve been thinking, but couldn’t ever really put into words.

Janneke M - You wrote this so much better than I ever could have! This is going on my list of favorite blog posts by photographers. Thank you for being so inspirational! I just found you through the IHF community. I am your newest fan and follower!

Junneen - Liz…go on with your awesome self! I love this, thanks for sharing. Spot ON!

Wendy - I loved what you had to say about the friend saying things from your back and how it wasn’t coming from a malicious place but a sad place. Thank you for that. When I started 3 years ago there was someone who instantly reacted negatively and we haven’t been the same since. I always thought she was just being a b*tch and thought my work was crap, but you are right… it is just sad that she is like that. It isn’t my fault and there is nothing I can do to change it, she’s the one that needs to change.

Chona - Liz…your courage and insight inspire me. Thank you for being you. The world is much more blessed with you in it.

Michelle - Thank you for sharing your story! It’s so inspiring. I have just begun my photography journey a few years ago and am not in business. Just a mom who is obsessed with this new hobby and taking pictures of my kids. I can so relate to the part about some people not being supportive in our lives. It’s hard not to let their negative comments or lack of interest get to me, but from now on I will remember this post and your words…focus on the positive and keep moving forward. Keep doing what you are doing! :)

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