Why I still invest in my photography education, and you should too.
First, a little background on me. I am a bit of a nerd. I love knowledge, useful and useless alike. Trivia is fun for me, except for when it’s not, and when it’s not I can usually be found deep in an internet rabbit hole learning about what I didn’t know. I have my Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and Master’s Degree in Forensic Law. I’m that person that thinks learning is fun (except math. I hate math). None of that really has anything to do with photography or my business, besides the fact that I generally like to be well-educated in whatever I’m pursuing.
I feel very strongly that education is an indispensable part of being an entrepreneur AND creative artist.
My learning, experimenting, and happy-accidents are not made on my client’s time. I shoot editorials and attend workshops to stretch my creative mind and/or to practice what I want to do…before I’m getting paid to do it. I’ve consistently taken at least one major workshop or course each year, and more than that in my first few years of business.
Honestly, I’ve been questioned on this. I’ve been asked why I “waste” my money. Well, it isn’t a waste of money if I am l building skills that will allow me to build my business along with my confidence. Confidence is the cornerstone to all creative work, especially when you are being paid for it, and confidence isn’t something that always comes naturally. I admit that I am a cautious person and a bit of an overthinker. When I get inside my head it can affect my work, so I figured out a way to counteract that! Overpreparation is my overthinker’s remedy. I literally cringe at the thought of “just winging it” with anything.
So, that explains workshops. But why do I participate in editorials or “styled shoots”?
The simple explanation for any artist or vendor participating in a styled shoot is that we all need time and space to experiment. Just like a professional athlete that spends hours at the court shooting from the foul line, or taking pitches inside a batting cage. They are trained professionals and still they constantly put in the work outside of gameday to perfect their methods. Editorials and styled shoots are my practice! The same goes for other vendors such as wedding planners, floral artists and hair & makeup stylists. They can showcase designs and styles that they love but haven’t had a client pick up on yet, or work outside of their comfort zone to try to perfect a vision. It’s a win-win for all involved, in my opinion!
How I choose the workshops I take:
- What my goals are for the year
- Where is it and how long will I be away from my family (if at all)
- Is the person doing the educating someone I respect in the industry AND a proven source of information.
Over the last few years, I have worked hard on mastering artificial light, perfecting my client experience (always a work in progress), and building vendor relationships. My first years in business were spent concentrating on improving my skills as a photographer (on my own time) so that I could always overdeliver for my clients.
What I’m working on this year:
Film Photography: because, why not? I love the look, feel and suspense of it. I’m enjoying the forced pace to calm my overactive mind.
Styling/Textiles: I want to be able to do more with less and to enhance my client’s personal style.
Business: Knowing my why behind all the decisions I make, every time I say yes when I could say no.
Artists come in so many different shapes and colors. So does art, if you haven’t noticed yet. Not any solution fits every person and this is just what has helped me to both grow my business each year while also enriching my mind and the life I want to live.
Here are some of my favorite images resulting from education and creative exploration:
One-on-One with Justine Milton, featured on Magnolia Rouge
Editorial work featured in The Perfect Palette
Editorial work featured on Bridal Musings
Editorial work with Charlotte Ballet featured on Charlotte Brides
My most recent workshop with Julie Paisley Photography