I spent so many years chasing what other photographers did. We all do it, right? We all watch what others are doing and think that’s what we need to be doing. That’s just the nature of this industry, especially when you’re just starting out.
You look to other photographers for inspiration and guidance and somehow feel like you have to be doing exactly what they’re doing if you want to succeed. I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s a dangerous rabbit hole that often left me feeling completely inadequate!
If I could go back to the beginning of this wild photography journey, there is so much I wish I could tell myself. One of the biggest things though would be truly defining my “why” sooner. Once you do that, you can seriously feel the freedom! The freedom to run your business how you want to run it, shoot like you want to shoot and stop chasing everyone else.
I went from being a psychology major in college to a pursuing photography without realizing the correlation. It wasn’t until a few years later I realized what tied those things together. With both industries, my heart was for helping people. My “why” was and still is to help others.
I went from wanting to help children with their emotional issues to helping families document their lives with their littles then helping couples document their wedding day. Knowing my “why” has given me so much freedom along this journey.
When you find your reason to start, you will feel that fire within you. That’s the kind of motivation you’ll need to keep going when things get tough. If you don’t have that “why” big and bold in your heart, adversity will be harder. There is a reason most wedding photographers transition to other avenues or quit altogether. Just remember: if it was easy, everyone would do it. Running a business is hard work but if you know your “why” and truly love what you do, it will be all worth it!
If you know your “why” then making decisions will be that much easier. Remember your values and make decisions that are in line with your “why”. Our “why” is helping others. Every decision we make we ask ourselves if this will help someone. If the answer is yes then the decision is made! You’ll have clarity on short and long-term goals as well as potential big changes down the road.
Change can be scary. We are living through some pretty big changes around here. But I know it’ll be okay because our “why” is set. It’s out there and my heart knows that no matter what, our “why” is still the same no matter what avenue we head down. Change is inevitable in business, but it’s so much more doable when you know you are still living your “why.”
This might be the best reason! Simon Sinek says it best, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” This couldn’t be truer! Putting your “why” out there allows you to connect with your audience on a more personal level, whether that’s families, couples, or brands.
If you have a team or plan to have one someday, this is also important for finding the right team members. You want to make sure your team believes what you believe.
Once you realize your “why”, it will free you from chasing other photographers. It’s always great to have photographers to look to for inspiration. But if you have a firm grasp on your “why” or your heart, you can finally just do what makes you happy and have the courage to do things your way!
If you are feeling a little lost on how to find that “why” of yours, dig deep and ask yourself why you are doing this! What gets you up in the morning? What excites you? What keeps your head spinning as you fall asleep?
You can always reach out to us as well! We are here to help! : D You got this!
Michelle & the whole Cotton crew