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2020 Lessons | Photographers answer: One thing I stopped doing, and one thing I started doing

2020 was a year nobody expected or planned for. It took us on an emotional rollercoaster, it challenged our worldview, and threw us miles away from our comfort zone. At the same time, it taught us to slow down, to be more intentional with our time and prioritize our own needs and self care. The mind and body that has been serving us so devotedly throughout the years, adapting to our hectic schedules, ambitious goals, and endless race for betterment – finally got to pause, rest and recharge. It was a hard year, but at the same time, it was the face slap that many of us needed, to stop, reflect and make fundamental changes to our businesses and to our lifestyles. Changes that will hopefully bring us more peace, happiness and growth in the long run. 

Already as a tradition (find last year’s edition here), we asked several photographers from the community to answer two questions:

1. What’s one important thing that you started doing in 2020 that made a difference for your photography business or personal life?

2. What did you stop doing in 2020 and why?

But before you read the answers and find yourself having gone through the same struggles and pivots – we ask you to pause for a moment and answer these two questions for yourself.

Rodney M. Brown II

rodneybrownphotography.com | website built with Porto 2

1. What I started doing in 2020?
“Making time for myself. I feel like I spent so much time going. Always going. Always something to do. This last year has caused me to really reflect on how I am using my time, how intentional I am with that time, and how I can allocate more time for myself. I feel like “self care” is a buzz word right now, but I can’t explain how important making time to be kind to yourself really is. I am the type of person who will easily forget and realize later “Rodney, you’re falling apart – chill out”. I’ve been spending a lot more time going slow, redefining productivity, and overall growing better at just listening to my body. It’s always a work in progress but we’re getting there.”

2. What I stopped doing in 2020?
“I stopped caring so much! Likes, how often I post – pretty much anything social media related – I just started to let go of its importance. I share when I feel like it and when I don’t, I don’t. And I don’t let myself feel bad about it. The beautiful thing is money comes when you put in great work regardless of how often you post on social media. It’s such a weight off of me not feeling like I have to run in that rat race every day. It makes it way easier to be more present for the world around me having my phone down as well.”

Mitch Colagrossi & Savanna Paige

twinflamesphoto.com | website built with Mono

1. What we started doing in 2020?
“Separation of “church and state” as we like to call it. Before, everything was mixed, whether it be our business and personal finances, to even just working 24/7 and not carving out specific times for work and to just be a couple together. This lack of separation and organization started to lead to burnout, fast. We knew that if we wanted to continue on this path, we absolutely had to make some changes. So, we started making a point to divide up individual tasks more. We made time for personal projects outside of Twin Flames, both together and apart (because it’s really important to have your own hobbies, too!).

We organized our finances extensively, started a few savings accounts for different short term and long term goals divvied up our responsibilities, and drew some lines. But most importantly, we started taking days off. Yeah, it was scary, because as an entrepreneur taking a day off can feel like the end of the world. But it was absolutely necessary to just carve out time together just to be a couple again, not business partners, and we’re so much happier for it.”

2. What we stopped doing in 2020?
“Getting our hopes up. That probably sounds negative and defeatist, we know, but it’s really been quite the opposite. Before, we used to have strict expectations with little to no wiggle room for how we expected our business to go. But, we found that all that did was create a whole lot of disappointment. Life rarely ever goes the way we plan, and we found that the best way to approach our career in a sustainable way was to let go of expectations and to just let things flow. We still hope for things, of course, but have grown a willingness to be okay with whatever outcome ensues, whether it correlates with our hopes or not. Now, we just focus on putting the intention out there, and if it happens, it happens. And if not, no worries. It just means that something even better is on its way.”

Joy Zamora

joyzamora.com | website built with Lyra

1. What I started doing in 2020?
“In 2020 I began to push my side of the education business. I have managed to create a community and also improve services and communication with my clients. I have gained time to care for and pamper my partners, and I have achieved a better balance between my business and my free time.”

2. What I stopped doing in 2020?
“In 2020 I have stopped doing many things, but the most important has been trying to constantly look at other people’s work. I’ve been looking for my own path and my own identity, and I think that stopping comparing myself has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time.”

Beatrice de Guigne

the-quirky.com | website built with June

1. What I started doing in 2020?
“I communicated way more than usual. Personally and professionally. Since many of us were scared, in a blur, looking for help, answers, or just a listening ear. The best thing I did was taking my phone or my keyboard and talk/manage/help my clients the best I could. I also started sharing more about the other works I do additionally to weddings and it helped a lot finding new contracts.”

2. What I stopped doing in 2020?
“I stopped worrying too much about the social media game. Finally, my world didn’t stop because I wasn’t in a post-everyday-mode for a few weeks in a row. I stopped telling myself « I don’t have time » as an excuse to postpone projects I had in my boxes for a long time.”

Samm Blake

sammblakeweddings.com | website built with Zephyr

1. What I started doing in 2020?
“Create a better life-work balance, even though it was forced upon us, it taught me to carve out time to go for an hour walk each day. All those hours walking has helped me come up with so many different ideas I want to implement or change in my business. The dedicated walk time each day has helped me think more creatively.”

2. What I stopped doing in 2020?
“I spent the first half of 2020 worrying about all the work disappearing before my eyes and the second half of the year was the busiest I have ever been, even in the middle of a pandemic in New York City. So towards the end of 2020 I stopped worrying and learnt to really seize the opportunity of the downtime I find myself once again, this time is to play & create. We may never have this much time to do so again.”

Saori & DeVante Terrell

spiritofrevelry.com | website built with Velvet

1. What we started doing in 2020?
“We noticed pretty early on during the quarantine that there was industry-wide pressure to hustle, lots of pressure to stay productive, despite being in the midst of global anxiety due to the pandemic. So, we started doing the opposite. We started going slow — I’m talking REALLY SLOW — and became deeply intentional about our self-care. We put our mental health at the top of our priorities, as well as our self-enrichment. This was our first year being married, under lockdown, with our livelihoods dangerously at stake. Going against the grain truly helped us stay sane, and we’d do it the same way all over again if we had to. We invested over $5k in business education and wellness practices, and totally shifted our mindset regarding how we want to live. We became clear on what we want our work-life balance to be like, and we learned so much about the industry that we had never taken the time to notice before.”

2. What we stopped doing in 2020?
“It took a rude awakening (hello pandemic, unemployment, and cancellations galore!) to realize that we had been severely undercutting ourselves. So, we decided to stop and eliminate our shoot & burn business model entirely. We switched to an IPS business model in late 2020, and have noticed a decline in bookings, just as we expected, but we know that the decline is only temporary. People felt entitled to low prices and didn’t value our efforts to go above and beyond. We were doing everything in our power to create an exceptional client experience from beginning to end, but all of that energy was being taken for granted. So, something had to change!
 
We are currently going through the process of educating our clients (returning clients and prospective clients) of how things are going to work from now on, and we’re optimistic about our future. Things may feel uncertain, and change can be pretty terrifying, but we refuse to go back to shoot & burn — AKA burnout mode. (This isn’t meant to throw any other photographers under the bus, or any of our clients for that matter). We just want to ensure that our client experience is valued and that we don’t participate in the race to the bottom. Exhausted and burned out is not a good place to be. Our clients deserve the absolute best of ourselves, and so do we!”

Recommended: Also check out this amazing FloInsider podcast episode with Saori & DeVante from Spirit of Revelry. They share all the unspoken rules and insights you ought to know when getting into business with your partner.

Tasha Renae Wade

fernwehandfairphotography.com 

1. What I started doing in 2020?
“In 2020 I stepped out of my comfort zone, and finally started going in the direction I’ve been wanting to go with my work. I felt stuck in a rut for a while just doing the same thing, and it was because I couldn’t put my finger on what I was passionate about, I had a session that sparked the creative in me, and finally found my niche”

2. What I stopped doing in 2020?“I stopped comparing myself to other photographers. Being authentic and genuine has always been something I’m proud of —they’re not me and I’m not them. Fitting is never what I’ve tried to do. I’m bold, opinionated, and I wanted my brand to reflect that as well.”

Recommended: Also check out this insightful FloInsider podcast episode with Tasha Renae Wade from Fernweh and Fair Photography. Tasha shares tips for those who plan to relocate their business and need to build their network from the ground up. She also talks about ways you can make your business more inclusive.

***

Sometimes you need to slow down to go faster. You’ve been on the run for a while, handling multiple job titles, figuring out the ins and outs of a successful business, and pushing your brand towards growth. Perhaps this was a pause you didn’t know you needed. Time off you wouldn’t have taken otherwise, to reflect, to analyze, to patch things up, and maybe even start over.

In the end, 2020 was a much-needed reminder that no matter what we do and where we are in life –  we need to be kinder to ourselves, to our bodies, our minds, and our creative souls. We hope that this lesson stays with you throughout the years!

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