Photography used be an industry of skilled craftsmanship. In a small town, you may have not even had one photographer. Perhaps you had to travel to a larger city where there might have been 4 or 5 to chose from. Those few could provide it all, because only they knew the craft so well. Today, there might be two on every corner. With the advent of the DSLR, the craft has become more accessible to the average person. Well, maybe not the craft, but certainly the tools. The industry began to shift dramatically. I fully admit that I am a mom with a camera... no doubt about it. I got my first camera on Mother's Day to capture my kids and it wasn't long before this stay-at-home mom started her very own side hustle. However, I quickly learned that it wasn't the tool or that fancy camera that made the photographer, it was the skill... the craft. I had a lot to learn. So I stepped back and began to learn everything I could about photography. I spent several years taking classes and honing my skill. After about 2 1/2 years of solid learning and some great achievements that I was proud of, I stepped back in and was finally to the point were I could comfortably call myself, "photographer." I put in the time, paid my dues and started to build a solid business, which came naturally. It was right about at this time that we moved and I had to start all over building the business in a new place. By this time the industry was flooded with semi-skilled people who had nice cameras and may or may not have had legitimate legal businesses. The value of a digital image dropped dramatically, depending on the "photographer." Competition became fierce, photography became cheaper and the only way to make it in the business is to stand out and set yourself apart. Skilled craftsmanship is part of that, but it became a much smaller part of the bigger picture. To make it in a highly competitive industry you have to brand yourself and market yourself perfectly on all accounts and probably supplement by capitalizing on a small niche in the industry. Your brand personality needs to be in front of your ideal client 24/7 on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter...etc. etc. and you better be on your toes, because those platforms are constantly changing. You have to change with it. Suddenly, being successful in the business of photography became less about the craft and more business savvy. If you are an entrepreneur, you know all the different hats that you must wear and there really is no such thing as part time. You have to be all in. I'm not at all complaining, it is what it is and I signed up for it.
Last year, I decided that 2019 would be the year for me to go all in. I had developed the skill and had the experience, now I had to take the plunge and go full steam ahead into marketing, branding and setting myself apart from the crowd. Even though I thought skill already had set me apart, I knew that wasn't enough. So I did it. I came up with content for blogs, I took a good long hard look at branding and I began marketing to my ideal clients. I was well on my way and beginning to see the results of all of my hard work. Then came summer and everything changed.
I suppose that this summer of transition has a lot to do with the stage of my family life. My kids are older and I am beginning to realize what people meant when they said, "enjoy it, it goes so fast." More accurately, it's like a flip was switched and no longer do you feel that the days of mothering children are endless, you see that they won't be in your home forever... in fact, they won't be children much longer at all. I began to take a hard look at why I started photography in the first place.
Being a stay at home mom, first and foremost, I wanted something that I could do for me. It became a creative outlet and a way to document the most beautiful blessing of my life, my family. Photography still is that for me and I don't regret investing all of the time and money that I did learning this craft that brings me so much joy. Photography has become so much more than creating beautiful photographs, it is capturing the light, love and beauty that I see around me every single day. The laughter, the joy, the connection and yes... sometimes even the heartache. It is all is pure love and that comes from our Creator. Photography, for me, is capturing Light. A Light much more powerful than the physical light that we can see.
Secondly, I went into the business side of photography with the idea that I could capture all of that and share it with others. I could provide the skill as a service to other families while supporting my family. Truthfully, that has always been a bit of a struggle. Yet the letters of gratitude that I got from moms who were in tears after viewing their images and the moments that I captured for her, made it all worth it. Still, juggling a growing family and a business is no easy task because of the amount of time it takes... and the amount of time it takes away. My skill level is high and my time is valuable. So I charge accordingly. I know my worth, then I charge tax.
At the beginning of the summer I was working my business full time while my kids were home from school. It was about three weeks in when I felt like I was missing out on so much time with them... even though we were physically in the same house. I realized that this time is extremely limited. That switch I was talking about flipped and when it did, it changed me. With my first child going into high school this year, it hit me like a ton of bricks that after this summer, we only have four (maybe five) summers left with all of us home together. So I decided to take a break from social media both in my business platforms and my personal to be fully present in the moment with my kids for the rest of the summer. As the noise of it all began to quiet and calm, I realized how much more authentic life is without social media. I also realized that the full time business side of photography was depleting the joy of it. I started to become anxious that if I didn't get back in, I would lose everything I worked so hard for. Yet, if the business was taking so much time away from the very reason that I began photography in the first place, it also took the joy out of it for me. I have always put my family first and taking the time to get down on the floor and play dolls with my 9 year old, shopping with my teen daughter or playing a round of tennis with my son was so much more important than any social media or Google analytics stat. They truly don't stay young very long. I just can't afford to sacrifice time with them, vying for attention in the vast sea of photographers.
So I am scaling back. I am not quitting photography by any means, but I won't be spending as much time on the marketing side of things. I will continue to provide an exceptional level of service and skilled craftsmanship to my clients. I am, however, choosing to pursue other professional endeavors to support my family that will allow me to be on their schedule and fully present when they are home from school.
What this means for Faye Sevel Photography...
1. I will be taking on only a very limited number of sessions each year
2. You will see a lot less of me on social media
3. I am ending the Dance Ambassador Program
If less posting, blogging, marketing etc. means the death of my business, I'm really at peace with that. The whole point of this wasn't that... the point was to capture light and love for others at a high level of skill and service, which is what I will continue to do. I recently met a family who asked me not to post any of their images online, because the experience was meant only for them. I always have and can certainly respect those wishes. Now, I think I understand that mindset a little more. Perhaps the industry will shift again and people will value the skilled craft again... and maybe it won't. In any case, this summer began as the summer of hustle and juggle and it has ended with much more clarity and grace. My kids start school on Monday and without a doubt, the best half of the summer was when I slowed down and began to take it all in. I will always be capturing the light and love that I see around me and I will continue to soak up every single moment of this beautiful life that I get to live with my family.
Less posting, more living. <3