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Things I’ve learnt in my second year of self employment

Things I’ve learnt in my second year of self employment

They say the first three years of self employment are the toughest. While this year has certainly been tough, it’s been an adventure that I would continue to choose, year after year.
This time last year, I shared my lessons from my first year of self employment (Tanya Jacobs Photography is actually 5 years old this year). You can read that post here.
I read it last night and I had to chuckle. While some of the lessons still apply now, there are so many more in my second year.

So here they are.

Real, honest lessons from my second year of self employment.

Master your workflow
I don’t have this down just yet, but I was forced to streamline my processes and get my workflow into some sort of arrangement when I was shooting back to back weddings and juggling late night editing, while being a mom and wife. Life with a busy toddler in the house and a business to run can be so hard, and yet, so rewarding.

It’s okay to be a mom first
I love spending mornings with Ella doing art classes, horse rides, ice skating or attending Baby Bright Stars or Clamber Club. So that’s what I do – I schedule mom hours into my day and I schedule work hours into my day. I’m a mom first, and that’s my most important role.

Believe in your worth
We all struggle with stuff. Confidence, habits, jealousy… Me? I struggle with believing in my worth. But with some mentoring and self teaching, I’ve worked through this and you know what… I’ve got this! I believe in myself. I believe I’m worth my prices. I believe I offer my clients a fantastic service and quality and I deserve to charge what I feel that’s worth. If you don’t believe in your own worth, how can you possibly expect clients to?

Give your clients an experience they’ll love
I’ve loved this – researching and refining my packages, my service, my offering to offer the very best of me and my products to my clients.

Forget about the likes
Facebook and Instagram are basically forcing you to think this way – unless you’re advertising with a bajillion Rand each week. Forget about the number of likes and the hearts. They’re not an indicator of how well your business is doing or how good your work is.

Be real. Like, Real, real.
I’ve received the most heartwarming interactions and connections with people online when I’ve shared openly, and honestly. I shared about my mom/entrepreneur struggles and other moms shared back. We joined forces and united and pushed each other along. I’ve found a tribe and I like my tribe. A lot.

Love your industry friends
I’ve been so fortunate to have amazing support all around me, and that includes the support of industry friends and colleagues. They were there to fall back on when I needed to rush to my mom’s side when she was in ICU and they were there when I hit an all time low in my career when I disappointed a client.

Which leads me to my next point…

Mistakes. They’re going to happen and they’re going to effing hurt. 
Badly. But you have to, HAVE TO, get up and try again, no matter how hard it is. Mistakes in business are hard lessons that need to be learnt.

Community over competition
Sharing work you can’t take on, and sharing with people who believe in community over competition, is one of the most rewarding ways to help another person’s business grow. Choose community over competition, every time.

Set your intentions
If you’re going to succeed – succeed.
If you’re going to step up – step up.
If you’re going to do it – do it.
Intention is everything.

Invest in yourself
I’ve spent hard earned money on investing in courses, books, holidays and guides, all to better myself and my business. Investing in myself and my knowledge has been worth every cent.

Burn out is real. 
Very real. There were days when I didn’t know how to face my workload and be a good mother and wife. Learn to help yourself, and learn when you need to reach out for help. Back to back weddings, no normal life balance, and a non-sleeping baby in the house is a recipe for some pretty ugly crying.

Sleep training. 
Completely un-photography related, but it was so necessary for me to function properly and to try regain control of my own balance. By sleep training, I mean sleep training Ella. 😉 It took her 21 months to finally sleep a straight 8 hours. Two nights ago, she pulled a 12 hour nighter with me (we had just arrived home after almost 23 hours of travelling). Sleep is important and Ella is a champ!

With every shoot, comes experience. 
Your portfolio will grow, you’ll learn to co-ordinate your work to show only what you love, and want to shoot, and you’ll grow with time. Enjoy the journey.

Be grateful.

Be ready.

Be you.

Watercolour art/therapy class with Terry Angelos

Watercolour art/therapy class with Terry Angelos

Motherhood is all consuming. Throw in a business, marriage, life and you’re one hot sleep deprived mess needing a little escape.

That escape came last week in the form of a Facebook post by Terry Angelos; there were just a few spaces left in her Art/Therapy class.
With a clear schedule, I jumped straight in and booked at 11.30pm that same night.
And I’m so glad I did.

I arrived at Anthology, in the Windermere Centre, and found my way to the back of the eclectic store to a corner that has been created for this very purpose: to escape, learn, grow. 
What I signed up for was an art lesson in watercolour. What I got, was a morning spent with lovely women, a deeper admiration for watercolour, and the actual ability of being able to paint!

And champagne and strawberries. 🙂

When I signed up, I told Terry I was a complete novice, and had no idea how I was going to be able to paint with watercolour. My attempts in Art in high school were terrible embarrassing  creative, and I’m glad I found photography as my outlet.

But watercolour is different.

Even my blobs with a few key strokes taught by Terry looked beautiful.

I was in botanical heaven, creating stems of minimalistic flowers and leaves and getting lost in soft tones and repetitive brush strokes.
If you’re looking to do something creative, this is it!

Terry’s planning some fun art classes for 2017 and I’m definitely signing up again. You can follow her on Facebook here to keep up with what she’s up to.

“Abstract watercolours unwind me…just get lost in colour..shape and making repetitive marks…like art yoga!” – Terry Angelos.

My very first photography Workshop

My very first photography Workshop

I did it. I created, launched and hosted my very first photography workshop for moms and it was a great success!

On Saturday just passed, I had 10 moms join me at St James on Venice, Morningside, for a workshop where I taught them how to use their DSLR cameras. It was so much fun teaching them the very basics of how to shoot on manual and how to take better photographs of their children.

From some moms not even being sure how to charge their cameras and most of them not knowing what F-stops (F-Spots to one mom! 😉 ) were, these moms absolutely rocked it and by the end of the three hour session, they were all shooting on manual mode! Yay moms! Yay me!

So here are three important things I learnt from my first workshop:

    1. To market
      Daaaayuum! Marketing a brand new product (Little Leap, by Tanya Jacobs Photography) was hard work and there were times that I wanted to drop the whole idea and run of the proverbial hills. But I didn’t. Through lots of pep talks from my husband, and marketing advice from my brother, I pushed on and BAM! 10 moms signed up! But not without a little bit of a price decrease, that may or may not have persuaded moms to sign up.
    2. To believe
      There are so many times that I doubted my abilities to properly host a workshop. There are photographers in this industry who have been shooting for far longer than I have been and they’re not doing this!
      But you know what… Just because they aren’t, doesn’t mean I couldn’t! I believed I could, so I did.
    3.  To breathe
      Once the workshop was done, I felt exhausted. I felt like I had suddenly caught the flu and I felt drained. I felt great, knowing I had helped 10 families learn how to truly cherish their memories and moments, but I also felt exhausted and ready to come home to my own family. The build up to a workshop is intense and with all the marketing, planning, creating and executing, I was finished.
      What followed was a four hour afternoon nap, that thankfully, co-incided with Ella’s plans too.
    4. To Know
      On my way home, I wondered if the moms had truly grasped the concept of aperture, manual and depth of field. This stuff isn’t always easy to understand, what with F-Stops and shutter speeds. But they got it! Was it something they’d forget the minute the left the workshop?
      But in our private Facebook group, already two moms have shared photos they took the day after the workshop, experimenting on their children and shooting in manual! My heart exploded with pride! They may forget a few basics here and there, and that F-spot is actually F-Stop, but they’re experimenting with their DSLR’s and that’s what counts!


I’ve been asked a few times if I’ll be doing another later this year. My year has filled up nicely with weddings and sessions but with enough interest in a workshop, I may just! Otherwise, there’s always 2017!

Keep an eye out on to see if I do!

Here’s  a few sneak peeks at the workshop from Nats dos Santos (who knocked the ball out of the park with these shots, learning how to use my Nikon DSLR camera during the workshop and taking these shots ON MANUAL)!

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Things to Remember on the Morning of your Wedding

I love arriving at the bride on the morning of her wedding. The atmosphere is jovial, the bride’s a little giddy and the room smells of happiness, fresh flowers and beauty products. It’s one of my favourite times to photograph.

Cranford Country Lodge Wedding Photographer

But no matter how excited you are and how much you just want to get out there and celebrate, there are things to be done!

Here are my top tips to having the best morning on your wedding day

Start your day with breakfast

I’d say it’s the number one thing almost every bride forgets on the morning of her wedding… to eat! It’s a long day with loads of champagne and alcohol to go out on an empty stomach. A platter of fruit, yoghurt and muesli is light enough for the morning or a sandwich before you get into your dress or have your make up done will keep you going.

Dress for Success

Matching gowns or tops are a lovely gift to your bridesmaids, and a perfect outfit for the morning of your wedding. Make sure whatever you’re wearing, it can be easily taken off without ruining your hair and make up.

Put your phone on silent

Leave Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp for the day after your wedding. Turn your phone on silent and hand it over to your maid of honour who can do all the answering of calls and texts.

Tanya Jacobs Photography Durban Wedding Photographer_0014Umthunzi Hotel Wedding Photogrpaher

Hair & make up

Having your make up done beautifully sets how you feel about yourself on your wedding day. Make space for your make up artist to work her (or his) magic, and ask a bridesmaid to clean up the area around you so empty packets, bags of clothes and empty lip stained champagne flutes aren’t lying around. You will always remember how you FELT on your wedding day, at least have nice photos of this time to remember that by.

Tidy Up

Ask a bridesmaid to be in charge of making sure bags, shoes and any rubbish is packed away, or out of sight. While I try cut out the clutter, it makes my job far easier if I have space to move around and shoot from any angle and not squashed against a wall, with only one clear background. I try to get the general surroundings in my photographs during this time to really tell your story so a tidy space just makes for nicer images.
Tanya Jacobs Photography Durban Wedding Photographer Woodridge Country Estate_0004

Create a music play list

It’s a small thing, but plays such a roll in setting a jovial atmosphere. “Happy,” by Pharrell Williams, “Drunk in Love,” by Beyoncé and and “Marry You,” by Bruno Mars are ultimate wedding morning chart toppers!

Get your accessories picture ready

Normally I’ll photograph your jewellery, perfume and other details early on in the day, so it’s a good idea to have these ready and to one side. This will save time so I have more time to photograph you and the goings-on, than searching for earrings, shoes and a lost bracelet from a great grandmother.


I’ve had a bride who had her DJ walk out on her an hour before she walked down the aisle, and a heavy downpour threatened to ruin her outdoor ceremony. But it all worked out and five minutes before she walked down the aisle and an emergency stretch tent was erected, the skies cleared and the DJ arrived. phew!

Everything will work out.

Relax, enjoy the day and all its glorious moments!

THIS is what you get with your wedding photography

THIS is what you get with your wedding photography

Every bride’s list of essential service providers is topped with photography.

Packages differ from photographer to photographer. Prices range & styles vary.

What is important to you, may simply be ‘photographs of your wedding day’.

But it’s more than that.

It’s the first moment you see each other.

It’s the emotions on the day that are so overwhelmingly precious, you’ll WANT to remember them forever.

The joy.

The nerves.

The eagerness to share your union with everyone.

The ability to relive that day, year after year.

It’s moments you didn’t even notice because you were so surrounded by love and happiness.

The tears.

The details.

It’s the last memorable flash of a gran who has passed.

A parent who is no longer with you.

It’s the evidence of a promise to love and be loved.

This is what you get with your wedding photography.

Precious recollections to share with generations to come as you reach old age.  Sharing the stories of your wedding day. 

Your wedding photography is an investment into your life story.

Because you’ll forget.

As the mind ages and the time passes, you’ll recall the detail on your dress with waning memory. Your mind will fog and the day will become hazy.

When you invest in your wedding photography, your story is shared visually time and time again.

Your wedding album, a beautiful heirloom, will be opened 10, 20, 30 years later and shared around the table with loved ones as you celebrate another year together.

And you’ll feel again.

   That love.

                That joy.

                           Those precious, precious moments.

This is what you get with your wedding photography.

Young, wild and Free | Styled Session

Young, wild and Free | Styled Session

I’ve had this idea in my head of a styled session on the beach inspired by this quote,

“Go now, run wild
barefoot and free.”

I wanted to create images that speak of being young, wild at heart and a free soul. We put this shoot together in one afternoon and I found the location while on our way to our actual spot on the beach. It just felt right and looking at the images now, I’m glad I went with it.

It felt good to be photographing again.

This year, I want to shoot what I envision. I want to create images that speak to my heart, and to yours. I want to photograph beauty and nature and merge the two together to create something phenomenal.

I want to photograph to the very best of my ability and to stretch myself to keep learning. To never be bored and to never stop trying.

These images speak to my heart. This is what I want to create.

———-Young, wild & free. ———-

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Thank you to Nicole, Nats and Kayla for modelling and for everything else. x


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