When you’re just starting out and haven’t figured out exactly what you want to photograph, you take work from anyone and everyone. That may mean you take pictures of cats when you want to be a landscape photographer.. Or you want to specialize in wedding photography but end up doing promotional work for a restaurant and only 2 weddings. In the beginning, you are thrilled to be get inquiries and experience which is completely fair. However, there comes a point when you find your niche and suddenly taking photos of anything & everything is not longer exciting…it’s exhausting. When this begins happening, you must learn to say no.
When I first began my photography business, I was a senior in high school. I really didn’t know what I wanted to photograph I just knew I loved taking pictures. I started with sports pictures at my high school in addition to giving away free senior pictures. Sound familiar? If you aren’t sure what your niche is, stop by Jennifer’s article for some tips when trying to find your photography passion. Fast forward six years and I am now primarily a wedding and engagement photographer and have finally hit that point where I need to say no. I have such an emotional connection to my work and clients and still struggle with saying no but have realized its importance. It’s taken photographing horses, newborns, buildings, bar mitzvahs and more to figure out my likes and dislikes. In case you didn’t gather this, those are some of my no’s. I could go on and on about why I say no to these sessions but instead I want to give you some reasons as to why you should also learn to say no.
, often times you are working on others down time. You work weekends, evenings, snow days, etc. in order to satisfy client schedules as well as get the desired images. So what happens when your business is booming and the inquiries keep coming? You work more weekends, evenings, snow days, etc. And while that sounds like a blast, it will quickly burn you out especially if you’re photographing things you don’t want to. “Me” time is IMPORTANT. You must set boundaries for yourself and determine what you want to do and what you don’t. For you, that may mean turning down clients who can only take pictures on Sunday’s or no longer traveling for sessions during the week. Value your time and make sure that you figure out a schedule that works for you and is filled with the type of work you want! On a related note, Nick also gave freelancers tips on how to make the most of your time and be productive.
So you started this whole thing because you love taking photos but suddenly you find yourself on the way to a session and dreading it. When that happens, something needs to change. This past year, I found myself extremely busy and dreading a particular kind of session. Newborns. Don’t get me wrong, I love love love babies. However, taking their pictures when they’re less than 2 weeks old…. Not for me. Each time I photographed a newborn, I would leave feeling fried and telling myself I wouldn’t do it again. Then, what do you know, I’d get an inquiry and I’d cave again. After my 3rd newborn session in two months, I finally had to make a decision for myself.
I realized that while I wanted to satisfy any/all clients, I also needed to keep myself happy. I took an afternoon and truly evaluated all of the jobs I had been taking. I reminded myself of which ones make me happy and which ones weren’t cutting it for me. If you find yourself in a situation like I was, take a step back and evaluate what you’re doing. Think about the sessions you leave feeling giddy and excited about and stick to those. Photograph the things that make that creative spark and passion in you come alive.
What better way to enhance your skills than more experience. Once you’ve tested the waters and determined what you love to photograph… save your time, effort and creativity for that specific type of photography. Say you want to be a boudoir photographer, each experience shooting boudoir will give you more insight for the next. You will become more comfortable with what equipment works best, what to say and not say to your client, what poses you like/dislike, and so on. If you are taking all kinds of sessions, you’ll be spreading yourself thin and may not gain nearly as much from each one.
So learn how to say no. Do it politely. Stick to what you love to photograph and remember that just because you don’t like a certain kind of work doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t. If you’re like me and newborn babies stress you out, then find a baby photographer you like and recommend them to your inquiring clients. As a result, you’ll have more time to devote to what you love to photograph and you’ll get even better at it!