(Or 7 months, to be exact)
For the first 8 years of owning my own business as a professional photographer, I mainly kept to myself. When I was first launching my business I took a quick glance at what some photographers offered to get an idea of what my clients might like (I don’t recommend this), but overall I really haven’t paid attention to other wedding photographers (local or international) and I didn’t network with many other wedding industry professionals. I also didn’t attend national conventions or compete in photographic competitions for professional wedding photographers.
For those first 8 years I just did my own thing and was completely content!
In 2015 I decided to change things up a bit and set a few goals that were out of the zone I’d kept myself in. Those goals included the following:
-attend an international photography conference (I chose to Shutterfest, in St Louis)
-enter a print competition (I did! And won first place!)
-become a member of the Professional photographers of America and Professional Photographers of Canada (check and check)
-network with other professionals in my industry (thanks to all my lovelies who have met for lunch or over coffee!)
-work towards obtaining a corporate sponsorship (didn’t expect to achieve this one already, but shout out to 17hats! I love what you do and am honoured to represent your amazing company!)
-work towards my biggest, long-term goal of becoming an educator in the industry and ultimately teaching on CreativeLive (Also didn’t expect this one so soon, but you can find my Photo Week 2015 on CreativeLive course here!)
The first four items on my list were pretty easy to achieve. They were more of a “to do” list than a set of goals.
When I started looking into conferences I found a lot of them to be much bigger than I wanted and felt a bit impersonal. Then, I heard about a conference that felt approachable and intimate where I knew I wouldn’t be just another face in the crowd. My curiosity was piqued.
The conference was ShutterFest and their website reads:
“If you are tired of the same old conference format and being lost in the crowd, then come enjoy a more intimate setting where you can network with peers and work side-by-side with some of the leading professional photographers and educators in the world!”
I knew I’d found the one I had been looking for and registered immediately.
April 2015 rolled around and I couldn’t have been more excited. The conference kicked off with the print competition, which I had entered. Just like that two of my “to do” list goals were complete. I was thrilled when I won first place for the category of Best Wedding Portrait Couple Together! The following two days were a wonderful time spent networking, learning, making new friends, and pushing myself with the camera. I had such a blast and left excited for ShutterFest 2016 and started making plans to work towards the mid-term goal of teaching there in a few years (a stepping stone to reaching my long-term goal of speaking on CreativeLive).
For those of you who have been following me, you’ll know I’ve already reached every goal on that list.
In 7 months, I went from not really engaging in my professional community, to attending my first conference and winning my first competition, to then obtaining my first corporate sponsorship, being invited to teach at Photo Week 2015 on CreativeLive!!
If you had asked me this time last year where I’d be I certainly wouldn’t have said here. I wasn’t due here for another few years!
Dream BIG. Set your goals. Hustle. Then hustle some more.
You can get there and quite possibly much faster than you’d ever dreamed!
Where will your next 7 months take you? Share some of your big goals in the comments below!