If you’re a photographer reading this, please get ready to learn from one of the many HUGE mistakes we made. I remember my wife being about five months pregnant with our first when we went to a monthly local photographer gathering in Atlanta… The speaker for that evening talked about this topic; specializing. The more I listened to her, the more it just didn’t make sense to me. Honestly, I thought that she didn’t know what she was talking about. At that point in our business, we were getting all sorts of inquiries. Maternity portraits, wedding videography, newborn photography,… even pet photography! Had no idea that even existed until I got a request for that service. And guess what I said to those? “WHY YES!”
I remember coming home from my first newborn photo shoot totally defeated. Then, we tried to figure out how we can do it better. So, I tried my second one. After seven hours, I came home saying, “Baby, I am never doing that again.” That’s the moment that my memory went back to that speaker and I gained so much respect for newborn photographers. It’s like my brain replayed everything she said, but this time, it made sense and I agreed with her. It was an “a-ha!” moment.
What was happening was that we were just focused on making “more money” thinking that that’s how you “grow” a business. The more money you make, the better success you have was what we were thinking. But, that is not true. Absolutely not. If you grow your business right, money will follow. Think about it… those two statements are totally different. It finally just clicked. Although it was hard for us to turn down the inquiries because we felt like we were throwing money away, we knew that that was the smarter choice. Have you heard of the phrase, “jack of all trades, master of none”? When you don’t specialize, that’s what you’ll become. When you have to go to the doctor, who do you see? A specialist! If your hand hurts, do you see a foot doctor? NO! As absurd as that question may have seemed, it’s the same when wedding photographers take newborn photos. If you’ve done photography for weddings and newborns before, I’m sure you know that they are two different worlds. The photography skills required are totally different as well as the way you have to approach and run the business.
Here are three ways you can begin specializing:
1. Figure out what you love!
And, don’t say you love photography! Of course you do. Now, figure out what kind of photography you love. For example, we LOVE weddings. Absolutely LOVE it! We can’t get enough of it. We love our couples, meeting with them, learning about how they met, how he proposed, wedding planning, the dresses, the colors, the flowers, the cake, the rings, the ENTIRE process is a passion of ours. I cry at every single wedding and most wedding consultations even. It just gets me. Some people go into wedding photography only because they believe that it makes the most money. WRONG! You can make the same amount or more doing ANY photography. As mentioned above, you just have to learn the way you have to run that business. Do you just love babies? Do you appreciate the emotions of a parent when their baby is born? Do you love capturing that? Do you feel like you can do ‘this’ forever? Ask yourself these questions…. If you’re at a stage of still figuring it out, then try different things out under different mentors. For example, find a wedding photographer to shoot with one wedding day! It’s like trying food sometimes… just try it and see!
2. Become an expert!
Stop doing “everything”. Even within wedding photography, there’s another level of specialization depending on what style of wedding photography you’re in! Crazy, right? Focus on what you LOVE and become an expert at it! The moment I realized that I LOVE wedding photography, that’s all that we’ve been pursuing. When working, that’s all we spend our time on. Constantly and consistently, knowing the latest trends, starting our own trends, learning the business more and more and more. Challenging ourselves with different things like when you have only 10 minutes to take amazing portraits of the bride and groom during their wedding and you are under the pressure of everyone waiting on you. How to edit efficiently and excellently at the same time. How to be “you” in an industry that is full of all different sorts of wedding photographers. How to take care of our clients and improve on our service. I have to know my equipment inside out, not having to even think about what lens I need to use depending on what shot I need or what setting I need to be in. When you become an expert, people will come to you for answers and you’re not afraid of what questions they will ask. But, ask me something about newborn photography, and what will I do? Refer you to a newborn photography expert….
3. Connect, connect, connect…
This is a must have skill. And yes, it’s a skill! You can’t succeed alone…. Make the initiative and connect with those around you. You can’t be afraid of rejection. Want to become a specialist? An expert? Then connect with one! Hang out with them! As mentioned in our previous blog, pay for it if you have to! That’s an investment with a priceless return. Find a mentor who can help you… someone that you can learn from. Someone that will make you become better. Humble yourself and receive their advice! Connect and become friends with those who are experts and you will become one too. Who you hang around with will make a HUGE difference in your life!
Just remember… you have a passion for a reason! Utilize it and dig into it… It will take a lot of time, mistakes and hard work… But, keep at it and you will become the specialist you want to become.