Made It.

I've debated even writing this post because I don't want to feel like I'm setting anything "in stone" and leaving no room for growth or I want to be clear I am NOT doing that.  More so I am just writing about how I *think*, after snapping people's pics for 4 years, that I have found my style.  I have found my niche, my passion and I really truly could not be any happier about where I am.  Have I made it?!  I think so.

This post might be braggy?? I don't mean it like that at all -- merely it's been 4 years since I started charging people to take their pictures and I finally, after all of this time, feel confident in my abilities, offerings, editings, and I feel like my prices accurately reflect that.  I have made it -- made it to where I've wanted to be and I *hope* this is now just a springing off point for where I'll continue to go!

Now, I am by no means an expert of any sorts (and am 100% self-taught), but dang nabit, I sure have come a long way from the fall of 2013!  And I hope I have not arrived at my final destination either; I want to continue to grow and get better and better!

But for now, I'm excited to share a few things with a list form.  You know I love me some lists!!  And I'm sharing some of my favorite most recent snaps of my own can check out oodles more of my most recent snaps over here and here.

  1. Style.  I think I have really settled upon the style which I can call my own.  My Instagram profile says, "inspired by film and rusticness and rainbows | capturing that first breath and every minute to come, sometimes with paws 🐾" and this is exactly what I feel like best describes me as a photographer!  I love the look of film, love those rustic elements and tones, but also love rainbows and bright colors...and I love capturing that first breath (births! new babes! squeeee!) and every minute to come (families! kids! weddings! so much that life has to offer!) and sometimes all of these come with a side of paws that also deserves some snappin' love too.  I feel like that description could not be any more accurate!  With that, I feel like I've landed with a very rusticy film type editing style.  Not everything I do is this, but most everything is edited with my fave Tribe Archipelago presets (that I custom tweak and make my own!) and I get so much inspiration from the LooksLikeFilm community that seeing others' work and what they are able to create with their camera and post-production is just inspiring!  It for real keeps me experimenting and trying new things and pushing my limits to see what I can do...and also screw up.  Because I feel like I learn the most from when something doesn't go right and I learn from it and improve!
  2. Name. I go back and forth about keeping "Pics & Paws Photography" as my name or just using my own name...but, as much as sometimes I think "Pics & Paws" might sound juvenile or amateur, it pays homage to where I started: my love for pictures and my favorite set of paws, Scooter.  So I keep it to remind me always of where I started and my inspiration for doing this in the first place.
  3. Pricing.  Oh boy, has this evolved over the past 4 years!  Yes, I am more expensive than I was 4 years ago.  But you know what?!  I am worth it...I think my images speak for themselves and the reviews and feedback I've gotten from my clients back this up.  I have learned over the years that pictures are an investment, and for quality investments you pay for them.  For a long while I 'gave away' so much for next to nothing (or free!) and, as appreciative as I am of those clients that let me snap their pics and build my portfolio, I am no longer at that point where I am just going to give away my work.  My art.  Because that's exactly what my pictures are: capturing that first breath and every minute to come.  They're not simply pictures, they are capturing life and memories.  This fall I've rolled out new pricing (you can check it out here!) and as terrifying as that is to do (because I'm so scared of losing clients!) I'm doing it, because I feel like I am worth it and all that it includes.
  4. Prints!  Okay, to be honest, for a LONG TIME offering prints scared the bejeezus out of me.  I didn't want to do it -- I wanted to be just a digital gal and that's it.  Well, after a lot of chats with my good friend Tiff over at Terry Farms Photography and some research on my own, I've decided to go ahead and offer prints in addition to digitals!  So with each session you get a set amount of digitals (and can purchase additional/full gallery as well), but now you also have the ability to purchase prints!  I have this amazing professional print lab (White House Custom Color) that does amazing work for my clients (and myself, because I've ordered some of my own prints for my house from them!) and I am so excited to offer this now.  And, shockingly, this has been a really easy new offering that immediately people have taken up my offerings of it!  WOOT!  So, if you care to take a gander, here are my print offerings and prices I now offer to my clients.
  5. Meant to do.  Truly.  This is what I was meant to do -- photograph.  Capture memories for others and have them etched not only in their memory banks but also as a tangible object.  I love my teaching job and don't see that career ending for me anytime soon; however, photography is my passion and truly what I was meant to do.  Who says you can't have two full time jobs and careers?!  Cause I'd argue tooth and nail with them that I indeed have this.  I have a successful photography business that I am oh-so-passionate about as well as a fabulous edtech/teaching job at a school that I love.  I love snapping so much that I literally get giddy with excitement when I read something new about a photography hack or a new camera or lens is coming out.  It truly is my passion and my calling!
Yes, I've made it I think.  But, as I said earlier, I have just made it this far...I hope my journey is not over or at the end and I keep going, keep making it.  As busy and as stressful as things get sometimes, I'm powering through because this truly is what makes me oh-so-happy and something I am proud to be doing for others.  Sure helps that I have an amazing support system of a flock of kids who ask me everyday about who's photoshoot I'm doing that day and an incredible hubby who sacrifices his own sleep and rest to watch the kids so I can snap snap snap away! 

Now, I truly believe I couldn't have done this without the support I've gotten from all well as TIME.  Time has allowed me to grow (and continue to grow!) and there is no way I could have just started up where I am now 4 years ago.  Sometimes I am guilty of wanting instant gratification and wanting to be perfect RIGHT NOW and not putting in the time.  Allowing myself to grow and learn and not setting any lofty expectations (just small goals) has really allowed me to get to where I am today.  And being fluid and allowing things to just develop and happen...practice truly does make perfect.  And a little bit of patience. 

Again, I'm no expert, but 4 years deep I feel like I can offer up a little advice to anyone starting out: stick with it.  Keep playing.  Keep experimenting.  Join Facebook groups and communities and learn learn learn!  Be okay with failing and use that to grow.  Make friends, both real life photogs and online ones.  Learn from each other and give yourself time.  Set attainable goals and be willing to roll with what comes at you.  Embrace the stress and craziness and keep going, because, as I've found, if it's something you love, that'll be the driving force behind why you're really doing it.

Here I am friends...and I cannot wait to see where I keep going. 

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