My Photography Journey | Lesley Vivienne Family & Birth Photographer
June 29, 2016
We ALL start somewhere - my somewhere was back in 2010, with my first camera being a Canon Rebel xs, that was actually my pawpaws. The rebel xs is a super basic camera, I shot everything on auto. In 2011 I took my very first PAID session. It was a family session for a young couple and their new little one. My editing skills were basically trying to bring a photo back to life, by randomly clicking things in Photoshop. I remember people would ask me if they could see the photos and I found myself making excuses about the images - like, okay, here it is but I can fix that in Photoshop and I'll take care of those shadows, and etc. I literally CRINGED when anyone asked to see a photo on my camera.
I've now been photographing for 5 years, holy smokes! 5 years! I've almost quit twice. TWICE. Twice because people can be SO so hateful, so mean. I've cried myself to sleep over things people had said to me. Not only customers - but mainly fellow photographers! It literally wasn't until this past year and a half, that I've REALLY started making FRIENDS, real friends, in my local photography community.
Luckily, about three years ago I was added to a private group for photographers, where I have made some very very VERY dear to my heart friends, from all over the world! After being in some of the meanest groups - where you ask for help and get tag-team attacked. I mean like, the little kid on the playground that nobody likes picked on. Just vile mean things are said in some of those groups, they year you down and break your soul.
If you don't know about a creative person; their work is their soul, whether it's good or bad. It's still something they have poured their heart into. That doesn't mean we aren't open to help and learning, and GROWING. But it does hurt so much to be picked on, to the point that you just want to give up and throw your camera away.
Now, the customer side of this business is a whole other story. I have made some of the greatest friends through this business. One that I now call the Godparent to one of my children, so so many people who I call friends. I've made some amazing, amazing connections with my clients and met some truly inspiring people.
Of course, we always get a person here or there that we can't make happy. I take that to heart. Straight to heart. I know it's business, and sometimes you need to realize that not everyone is your perfect client. But I can rarely walk away knowing I have upset someone. I'll toss and turn at night knowing that I've upset someone. I may be a business, and sometimes I have to act like a business, but don't think that I'm not a human also. I do have a heart.
I think the thing that truly kills me the most lately, is pricing. I STRIVE - I mean STRIVE to keep my prices affordable for everyone, I feel like the lower end of income deserve a chance for photographs of special times just as much as the higher end. But yet, I can't take food off the table of my children to do this. Every time a person tries to haggle me down, or tell me I'm not worth what I charge, I simply have to take a very deep breathe, think about my babies at home - and let it go.
I know that most customers don't run personal businesses of their own, and most don't think about the other end of business - the side they can't see.
Editing the images, all the times my husband gets grumpy, for a nicer word to use, at me because I'm spending too much time on my phone when replying to comments, messages and e-mails. All the evenings where as soon as my husband gets home, we give each other a kiss, he takes over the kids and I jump into the car that he had left running for me and took off to another session.
Plus, lets not forget all the events we miss.
The, "Hey babe, can we go to so and so's this or that on this date" I'm sorry babe, I've already got a session booked then...
Or that most of the time, if we want to do something with the kids special, we put it on the calendar a month to two months ahead of time, or it's 100% spur of the moment when a session has been cancelled for reschedule.
It can be a crazy hectic life.
& no, I'm not just saying all this to justify my prices - I feel that I'm worth every single penny I charge, and honestly, I could charge more and have been told that many, many, many times.
But I don't, because of you. Because I want my clients to have those images. I allow payment plans, which are even more work for me on the back end, just so my clients can have those memories.
I love my job. Love it so much. I love this crazy adventure it's taken me through. <3 My start to now story isn't much, I'm no Sue Bryce or Meg Bitton, I don't have millions and millions of people swooning over my work.
But the best feeling in the world is walking through our local Wal-Mart and someone recognizing me because of my work.
I truly can't wait to see how much I've grown in 5 more years. Grown as a human, grown in my art, just grown. This business has changed me, changed so much about me. It's made me grow in ways that I never though I would ever grow. It's made me be somebody. <3