Long post, so beware...but totally worth the read ;)
YOU GUYS!! First of all, I say this at some point in time every. single. year...but really I have to say it again: I am completely BLOWN AWAY by you. You see, when I first started my journey in photography, I didn't have any inclination of starting a business. I just wanted to be able to document the things I could see in front of me with a camera. Once I began to understand my camera more I thought for a brief moment, "I want to photograph people for a living!" Then I laughed it off because I happened to know a true professional photographer and he was WAY better than me. Plus, beyond some mentoring from this photographer, I had no formal training in the discipline so I didn't think I was worthy to call myself a "photographer."
Well, we all know I was wrong! It's been my joy to photograph countless people over the last seven years and it's been AMAZING to see how quickly I built up clientele once I officially declared as a business in 2015. BLOWN AWAY really is the only phrase for it. I am humbled by the amount of people that have entrusted me to document life and create visual imagery for them. I had no idea I'd be able to create a sustainable business by doing this...it's a dream!
When I started, I photographed anything and everything I could get my hands on. I did this partially because I was nervous that if I turned something down I'd never have a shot at that particular request again...I also did it because I was eager and I wasn't sure what I loved and what I didn't love. I took on events, birthday parties, weddings, families, newborns, seniors, headshots, commercial work, landscape imagery, prom photos, real estate ... anything and everything I tell ya! Over the last two years I've been slowing culling down some of these different areas to narrow my focus a bit, but I've come to a time where I believe it's officially time to narrow it even more declare what I want to shoot.
I've been doing some soul searching over the last few months. I've been doing this for several reasons. First, I've been overwhelmed by the business end of what I do. A common misconception is that photographers shoot 95 % of the time and the business end is the remaining 5%. In reality, many photographers shoot about 15% of their work time and the back end takes up the remaining 85%. The back end of business is hard and demanding and it's left me overwhelmed. Second, I've been soul searching because I've been aching to express myself more creatively. Taking on so many types of photography opportunities has left me with little time to express myself creatively and I need that...desperately. Third, I've been soul searching because I have a family and my business affects my family. The goal is for my business to benefit my family, but it began to take away from it and I didn't want that to happen any longer.
During this soul searching process I've discovered several things. I've discovered some cool trends in my business - when I first stared my business, 100% of my clients wanted digital files. As I've introduced professional products to my clients, that number has lessened. Last year, only a handful of clients wanted digitals. The vast majority wanted actual product in hand...and I discovered that I LOVE handing my clients amazing products to display in their homes!!
I discovered that photographing families is my heart beat. I LOVE families. I believe in the gift of family and I believe that every family on the planet should see what it looks like visually to interact with each other. In a world that has us constantly doubting ourselves, sometimes visual reminders help solidify truth. And the truth is...family is a gift. A beautiful gift. I want to show you your gift.
I discovered that I AM A LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHER. There's nothing else to it... I shoot like I see the world and documenting life as art is how I see the world.
I discovered that it's ok to know who I am, what I want to photograph and to pursue that unapologetically.
So...all these ramblings come to this: I've decided to make a few changed in my business. These changes are positive changes that'll allow me to more creatively be myself and pursue what I'm good at. They'll free me up to photograph your story honestly and unhurried. They'll allow me to have more family time. They'll allow me to offer more to my clients. Wanna know what the changes are?
1) I am going to focus exclusively on family photography. Like I said above, I LOVE family photography. It's my thing. I'm pretty good at it. I want to do it...so I am. I'm hitting the pause button on weddings for a while (not sure if this is indefinite or not). I'm hitting the pause button on events. I'm taking on anything to do with family: maternity, newborn, parents & kiddos, extended family, & seniors. I'll still work with some commercial clients too, but the focus of my business will be documenting life. That is my art.
2) I'm changing up my pricing structure. Now don't everyone freak out when you read this! I've done some number crunching and evaluating on the business end and I've seen some really cool trends in the types of products my clients like. In order to give my clients what they want (and what I want them to have) my investment structure will change. You can expect to see a big emphasis on super cool fine art products that are made to be on display in your home. From big storyboard canvases, super sweet framed prints, vintage leather albums, etc...I'm bringing my clients the products they love! Yes, you can still purchase digitals for my digital lovers out there ;)
3) I'm going to focus on lifestyle photography. Lifestyle photography is simply photography that captures real life. This means your sessions will be tailored more to who YOU are and telling YOUR story. You'll see sessions done in home (documenting families in their real life environment). You'll see sessions done at specific locations. You're even going to see some travel session opportunities coming your way. Get excited folks!! The common theme you'll see in all of this is in the imagery. Whether your story can best be told at home or at some cool spot your family loves, the entire point is to document connection. You need to see what it looks like when your family interacts and I want to show you that interaction. So if you want someone to document hugs and snuggles, dancing and playing, giggles and even tears...I'm your girl!
4) Finally, this will eventually lead to an entire branding and website redesign. I'm not there yet, so don't get too excited, but my goal is to start on that fall of 2017 so that by 2018 Carrie Gilliam Photography will have a whole new look.
If you've stayed with me thus far, great job...that's a lot of words to sift through! I hope you're as excited as I am to move forward on this next leg of the journey. I certainly wouldn't be here without you. Now, let's see what we can create together!