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Mastering Photography by Letting Go of Everything Else

August 13, 2018

I was 16 years old and had just gotten my nails done when a friend asked me how long my gel manicure typically lasted. I told her I thought it lasted about a week or so, but then she looked at me and said, “Well, for you maybe, but you don’t actually work.”

What she intended to imply was that I don’t have my hands in soapy water all the time like she did at her job, but I still remember being crazy offended by the comment (especially since I was working in a restaurant at the time) and it changed who I am today.

I know this seemingly has nothing to do with photography but, for me, this is where my downfall started. Working in my family has always been a badge of honor and I proudly wear it. From that point on I made it a point to work, and work harder that “normal” people.

In fact, while I was in college full-time, I held up to three part-time jobs simultaneously. They were a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but to me working multiple jobs meant that I was a good worker and nobody could tell me anything less.

It wasn’t until much later when I owned my own business that I realized working hard does not mean that you’re working smart. In fact, being a jack-of-all-trades while owning your own business may seem advantageous, but it isn’t.

You may think you’re a one man show and magically do everything yourself, but trust me, your work suffers, your clients suffer and your business suffers because of it. I think it’s funny that the cliché jack-of-all-trades, is often not finished with the second half of the saying, “master of none.”

If you only say the first part of it, it almost sounds like you’re great at everything you do, but the truth is, when you finish the sentence with, it reveals the truth.

That you’re not actually very good at anything you’re doing.

As a photographer your primary goal is to be a master at photography. When I first started my own business, I thought I could be my own receptionist, photo editor, album designer, graphic designer, marketer and yeah, and at some point I would do photography as well.

I just celebrated my 10 year anniversary owning my own business and so far it’s grossed well over $2 million. That did not happen because I was a jack-of-all-trades. That happened because I realized that I needed to be a master of photography and find other masters to do the rest. As CEO of my business my job is to find and entrust other people to be masters of the rest of what it takes to make my clients happy.

Trying to be a jack-of-all-trades actually hinders you from being a master of anything else. You will end up spending so much of your time on busy work and working in your business instead of on it. Eventually, your mind will be too cluttered to have time to be creative and learn more about the craft of photography. Ultimately, the product and service you give your clients will suffer.

Just this week I had a client ask me if I do my own editing – and I proudly said “No, definitely not. I’m not nearly as good as it as my team is, so I concentrate on photography, they concentrate on editing.” They loved that answer and were happy that I sourced the best possible people for every part of the job they were hiring me and my company for.

Finding masters of the other parts of your business is not easy. In fact when you find a master, you not only have to work with them to get them up to speed, but you also need to to continually work with them to grow with you, your business and your style of photography. Then sometimes things just don’t work out, so you’ve got to anticipate turnover and find new masters almost all the time. But let me tell you, it is so worth it.

If you’re going to start anywhere, I highly suggest starting on the things that take you the most amount of time. For me in the beginning, it was easily post-production. While I understood everything that needed to go into editing my photos and how to do it quickly, and I had the best kind of software and still do in order to get the job done, it just wasn’t worth the amount of time that I was spending doing it. That’s why it’s better to ask an editing company to do it for you, this ensures that the photographs will be done to the best standard. After the editing company has finished with them, they can either send the pictures back to you or they can send them on to the client. Whoever is going to be receiving all of these files does need to be prepared. When sending the files over to clients, it might be worth telling them about how to receive big files online to ensure they know how they can access their pictures easily.

Now I don’t cull, I don’t post process and I don’t even upload them to my online galleries. My editing company, Freedom Edits, is doing that all for me. I’ve used a lot of companies over the years and they’ve been good fits at the time. Most recently, however, I’ve landed on Freedom Edits for the following reasons that you too should look for in your outsourcing company.

P.S. If you want to try outsourcing, Freedom Edits is giving you your first order FOR FREE!!!

#1 – Style Matching

The post-production company that you use has to match your artistic style. Your style is the heart of you photography business and it’s what your clients come to expect. Work with a company to make sure that you get the style nailed.

This doesn’t just happen overnight, and it will probably take two to three jobs to get started. Within three jobs, Freedom Edits nailed exactly what we needed. Does it mean everything is perfect every time? Absolutely not. Everyone makes occasional mistakes and no that’s no big deal, which brings me to number two.

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#2 – Analyze how the company handles problems.

Problems are going to arise because you’re not perfect and neither is any company that you’re going to hire. What makes the difference is how the company handles the problems. Do they make you feel awkward because you addressed the problems? Do they make you feel like you’re a burden? Do they make it feel like your problems aren’t relevant and you should just stop being so picky?

Your photography is the livelihood of your business and probably your life as well. The last thing you want is a company that makes you feel silly about any aspect of it. Look for companies that want to go above and beyond to fix problems and do it happily without making you feel stupid.

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#3 – Finances

Let’s not ignore the fact that post-production is probably one of the most expensive things that you will outsource other than printing the actual albums. That’s because it directly relates to the most valuable thing that you have, time. Your time is so valuable. It can be spent with your family or friends, or if you’re completely business oriented, then spent networking with other wedding professionals and working on ways to bring your business through your door.

Paying for the gift of time is something that cannot be undervalued. You can easily prepare for this thanks to companies like Freedom Edits that have subscription plans. You can start of a la carte, but honestly, I propose just diving in right away. Hit the ground running and get your life back. Claim the freedom to concentrate on becoming a master of photography and stop jacking around. Photographers, now’s the time to get your freedom back.

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