What I learnt in my first year of self employment - Tanya Jacobs Photography

What a year! I almost can’t believe it’s been a whole year since I left my corporate media job and jumped into full time wedding photography!

My business is four years old this November, but it was only in September last year, that the juggling of two careers came to an end and I went full time in Tanya Jacobs Photography.

I had to. We had a baby on the way and I was working all day, every night, and every weekend.

So after almost 10 years, I went solo and I have no regrets! In fact, it’s been one of the most rewarding years of my life!

In that time, I have given birth to the most amazing little girl (who will be one in November!), photographed exceptional weddings that I can’t believe I actually booked, smashed goals, hosted my first workshop and made friends in the industry who are supportive and encouraging.

It’s not been without its tears, fears, doubts and late night panics. Oh boy, there’s been loads of that. And frustrations and lessons and everything else that goes with being your own boss.

There were (are) so many “can’t’s”.

I can’t raise my prices. 

I can’t run a workshop.

I can’t photograph this wedding.

I can’t do any better. 

But I did.

How? I believed I could and I poured my heart and soul into every single wedding, every single session, and every single day.

Somedays were harder than others. Juggling a baby and a business has been a challenge and I am no stranger to breastfeeding Ella at my desk while replying to emails (and even Skyping!) or editing, or working only during her 30 minute naps, with her monitor beeping to her every heartbeat, counting down the minutes till I have to stop working, to play. The floor of her nursery is often my office space and my pyjamas, my uniform.

But you are capable of so many things if you just believe that you can achieve them. For the first time in four years, I own all the gear I have dreamed of. (Except for one camera, I’m still working towards that). I get to spend time with my daughter, teaching her and showing her the world so she too can one day follow her dreams. I get to photograph amazing weddings with the nicest people who trust me and who feel like friends. It’s always an honour and at the end of each wedding day, when I drive home in the dark, to a baby who is desperate for her momma, I have a heart filled with gratitude.

The past year has taught me a whole freakin’ lot. Here are my biggest lessons:

It’s going to be tough

Really tough. Awake-all-night kind of tough (and not just because of the newborn in your bedroom). I made sure when I left my career that I had a financial buffer and that if some months were quieter, I would be ok. They’re scary, but you’ll be ok.

Stop comparing

This was a biggie for me. In the beginning, I kept comparing my work to others, pulling myself down, tearing my work apart. Comparing their journey to my start. It’s good to look at your own work with a critical eye, but it’s not good to beat yourself up because you’re not as far ahead as someone else is. Once I had learnt this, I was able to focus on myself and start really getting into my own photography. This has been so rewarding and I can finally LOVE my own work! Do things your own way. 

Know who you want to work for

I learnt who I wanted to work for, and who I definitely didn’t want to work for. Hard lessons. I have learnt to say no to clients who weren’t the right fit and who didn’t appreciate photography as an art and investment and were looking for discounts. I defined my target client and since then, have been hitting the mark with each wedding/shoot. This is so rewarding and working with people who love me and my work, pushes me to over deliver more and more.

Have deadlines

Without deadlines, my work starts to fall behind and I feel anxious, lost and completely overwhelmed. Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines!

Be kind to yourself

I’ve learnt to stop being so hard on myself. I’ve learnt to take breaks when I need them and to give myself time. Being your own bully is going to damage you.

And ask for help. I have asked so many other photographers their opinions or advice on things and even hired a photographer to be my mentor for an afternoon. She has no idea how valuable that session was and how it has changed the way I pose my couples and see my couples through my lens now.

Believe

Believe you can do it. And then just do it.

Lastly, I would not be here without the love and support of family, friends and YOU. Thank you especially to my husband and my mom, who both deserve trips across the globe for their never-ending support and encouragement.

Even with its challenges, ups, downs, highs and lows, I CANNOT wait to see what the next year holds!

 


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