So today I took five to reflect on 2018 because where the hell has it gone?!! I thought I’d open up and share the top 5 things I’ve learnt and discovered in my first year of business at Grace Elizabeth Images. Happy Reading.
If you had told me over 5 years ago that today I’d be working for myself I probably would have chuckled and disregarded it. I pursued an engineering degree, overseas travel and full-time work before the thought of photography ever hit me. To those that sometimes feel a bit lost - I feel you - I’ve been there. I never had some big revelation or lightbulb moment - I did have a passion for taking photos on an iPhone and I guess that was it. A couple of years ago I sporadically purchased a camera, not knowing what I needed and enrolled myself in a basic DSLR course for 6 weeks. That’s as much training as I’ve had - the rest has been trial and error and lots of learning and making mistakes. Today I’m still going through those processes but things keep getting better.
It’s Not Easy…
I’m not going to lie, having your own business isn’t easy. There’s days where I’m following up invoices to make sure I’m getting paid, days spent trying not to panic when I have creative blocks and times when it gets a little lonely. Sometimes it feels like I’m treading water and trying to stay afloat with no flotation devices for support - you’re throwing yourself in the deep end with no safety net. I’ve never undertaken a business degree, everyday I’m learning something new about accounting, finances, processes and better ways to become a more efficient business woman and a better photographer. You’ve got to push yourself - I’ve made so many mistakes and I’ve discovered that’s been the best way of learning.
But it is Rewarding…
What I will share is there is so much satisfaction in working for myself - I’ve learnt things about myself I didn’t expect to - I’ve had to push myself out of my comfort zones, expand creatively, build resilience but most of all at the end of the day I’ve learnt to believe in myself. Without that I don’t think I’d be where I am now. I get to do what I love everyday and grow as a person - who doesn’t want that? The reward is seeing happy clients with a range of work popping up and knowing that hey I did that!! You’ve got to celebrate the little wins. I’m an impatient person - but those wins, they are the building blocks to bigger and better things. It is so cliche but find something you love and do it - not ready to jump in the deep end? Start in the shallows and develop a side hustle. Just do it.
Connection and Relationship Building.
I’ll give you a few tips from the biggest things I’ve learnt along the way - Connect - Surround yourself with the most amazing people, find creatives doing amazing things and business owners that are more established than you and build relationships. Ask questions.. I’m always probing and asking questions haha - I’m pretty sure everyone I know see’s me coming from a mile away. If I don’t reach out I’m never going to know.
I remember approaching Sam an extremely established photographer and Co-owner of Newstead Studios with his wife Cass and thinking man this guys work is phenomenal - I asked if we could have coffee because I had so many questions about fashion and studio photography and didn’t know where to find the answers - I was also shit scared and intimidated - Now I’m a resident of Newstead Studios and run my business out of the co-working space. I also have absorbed a range of knowledge that has been so valuable in shaping where myself and my business is today. I have made so so many amazing connections and have a range of people to turn to for a little bit of support when I’m actually not sure what I should do. On the days when I’m feeling a little lonely I know I’m not. If you’re working on your own, start working out of a co-working space like Newstead Studios - I’ve found I’m more productive, interactive and social and the business benefits are second to none.
Knowledge and Where To Find It?
One thing that I’ve noticed is the world seems to give me what I need exactly when I need it - opportunities have always popped up at the right time. Call it fate, coincidental or whatever you like but the right people have always showed up at the right time and I’ve learnt many new things from those moments. Some times you have to sit back and be patient, other times you should be seeking them out. Panels, networking events and workshops are the best way to meet new people and see how others are running their businesses. You might walk away with one new contact or one new take-away that you can implement - that alone is extremely valuable. I can’t tell you how many amazing women I’ve met from events that I now value as close friends and business mentors.
This old one - it really is true, greatness never came from living within your comfort zone. Over the last 9 months I’ve learnt to kick myself out of my comfort zone creatively. Instead of worrying about running a test shoot for portfolio work and my own personal content and fearing failure - I just do it. Shit happens. Some shoots go amazing… some not so much - I’ve had times where I’ve been forced to problem solve and sort that shit out. Problem solving sadly isn’t a skill that you just learn out of a text book, you’ve got to encounter road blocks and cross roads to develop and fine tune it. I was genuinely scared of stepping into the studio - everyone has a fear of the unknown - but that’s where the magic happens. As a creative I have moments of anxiety when I’m struggling to create. That’s my job, unfortunately at times its just not that simple - in those moments I’ve learnt to push through or let go. Creativity comes back around in the end.
Developing ideas and creative concepts has been a matter of opening myself - to everything around me. I’m always looking at colours, shapes, light, people, textures and materials. It has also developed from joining forces with a range of people, bouncing ideas around and working together - it doesn’t always have to be a one woman show!
Have any questions or comments? Leave them below, I’d love to hear from you!