2012 was the worst year of my life. It wasn’t the worst year because bad things happened (they did) it was the worst year because the bad things got the best of me and overtook the good things in my focus.
I started the year working too much. I was stressed because we had moved the year before and I really needed for 2012 to be the year we established ourselves in our new market. I was OK with 2011 being a transitional year but I had to get serious and I thought I needed to be back up to full capacity in 2012 or I’d be in trouble. So I pressed hard on the workshops. I spent all my time trying to book more weddings (or stressing about it). I was working all the time.
My mom moved to Atlanta at the end of 2011 and I thought it would be a great chance to be closer and spend more time together. I’d resolved that as soon as I finished all the business stuff I needed to do in the first quarter of 2012 I’d hang out with my mom more. Then in the middle of doing the last workshop of my busy period my mom had a stroke and passed away.
This isn’t a blog post about loss or sadness or regret, this is a post about what really matters in life.
It is easy to become engrossed with the idea that your job is your identity. It is very popular to say that you are selling yourself, or that your business is all about you. I hate that, because the market can’t have all of me. I have a life I need to lead and I don’t want photography to take over.
I get it – photography is your life. I guess it is OK if you feel that way. But I can guarantee you that years down the road I’m going to regret not spending more time with my mom more than I’ll regret not booking more weddings or workshops.
The business side of things allows you to build boundaries. It tells you how much you need to dedicate to working, and it tells you how much you need to do to execute on your value proposition. Everything else can go. The business is really the intermediary between your photography and your clients. The business translates what you do to why it matters to clients. If we define our value proposition and communicate it properly through our business, we always know when we are being successful, and where we can draw a line and step away to live our lives.
I hate money. I don’t really like thinking about it or even spending it. But I have to bring it in. I have to budget how much time and energy I’m going to put into making that money. I also need for my clients to be thrilled, both from a business standpoint and from a moral standpoint. The “business” is what defines expectations and systems that makes all that satisfaction happen.
I have a confession to make. I don’t love photography. I do have an enormous amount of respect for the craft of photography. What I love is my wife. I love my friends. And most of the time I love the effect that photography can have on my clients. I care about business because it ensures that everything that needs to happen comes through.