It occurred to me recently that I have a tendency to rush things in life.  There never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done that I need to do.  I’m always 10 steps ahead of myself, thinking about what I have to do next – and I never really stop to enjoy the simple moments that I know I will miss someday.  I was thinking the other day that there’s a good chance that I rushed into things too quickly with my photography business.  Part of me wishes I had taken my good old time, but honestly – that’s just not really my style.  When I put my mind to something, that’s it – I obsess.  It’s bad and annoying, but it’s part of my DNA.  I think some of the reasoning behind why I pushed things so quickly is because I was scared. Scared. To. Death.  Still am!  Perhaps part of me knew if I just went with it, full steam ahead, there wouldn’t be time to talk myself out of it.  So while that may have been a good thing for me, there is something to be said for taking your time with something so huge.  Of course I can’t go back in time, so now is my time to circle back and focus on the details.  The details I probably should have worried about beforehand.

Over the past three months, I’ve spent a ton of time just trying to get things checked off my ‘to-do’ list in order to get up and running – things like getting a logo and watermark created, getting the blog up, running and looking pretty, getting the website up, updated and looking pretty, finding and comparing vendors, deciding what products I want to offer clients, and pricing those things out.  In my rush to get things set up and semi-professional looking, I realize now that I compromised my own sense of style for the sake of speed.  That was pretty dumb, especially now that I realize how important your brand really is.

Take for instance, something as simple as defining my photographic style – I used to refer to it as “natural light, documentary-style photography”.  I don’t know how or why I came up with that, but that was my initial interpretation of my style.  After reading a blog post on lifestyle photography from the totally awesome and super talented Brittani Bowling of Brittani Bowling Photography (who has been an amazing resource and supporter, I might add), I was finally able to put into much *better* words what my vision and photo style is – modern, lifestyle pet photography.  Simple?  Yes.  Elegant?  Maybe.  Me?  Totally.  Thanks Brittani for writing that post and guiding me to figure out exactly how to express my photographic style!

My website is constantly evolving.  It’s updated and functional, but it’s just not really “me” yet.  I’m working on it at the moment, customizing it to match my blog.  It’s getting there… slowly.  My blog is finally starting to take on some of my style and personality – thank you ProPhoto Blogs for being oh-so customizable!  I love my blog!

I guess my main point with all of this is that if I had to do it all over again, I probably would not rush as much as I did.  At least, maybe in a few areas.  Then again, maybe if I didn’t rush to get things going, I wouldn’t have gained the experience that I have so far.  It’s tricky.  Since the beginning of this year, everything has changed.  My logo has changed color schemes and text design.  My blog has changed colors, format, headers… you name it and it’s probably changed.  My website has evolved from a blog-site to a full-fledged Flash website.  My gallery images have changed dramatically.  I’ve upgraded camera bodies and bought some good prime lenses.  My photography overall has improved in just this short amount of time and I’m finally starting to discover how I like to shoot and what my style just might turn out to be.  Wow.  In the coming months, I’m sure everything will change again.  I’ve been toying with the idea of changing my business name to something more pet-centric, redesigning my logo, and re-branding all together.undefinedIn the end, I want to stand out, be different, and be known for my style – not someone else’s or something a template forces me into.  Being a photographer is not just about taking a nice photo – tons of people could do that.  You need to differentiate yourself, provide a reason to clients why they should choose to work with you instead of the other photographer across town.  I admire a TON of really talented photographers – pet photographers, wedding photographers, and children photographers alike!  Inspiration is everywhere.  I’m finding great inspiration recently from nature and natural light.  I’m expanding my photography experiences by joining another photography forum and a non-pet related 52 Project.  My style will evolve over time and I’m sure it will pull certain elements from each and every photographer I truly admire.  Now, my mission is to step back from the business side of things, stop rushing so much, focus on fine tuning my photography skills, find and define my style and finally, communicate that to the world through my images, website, blog, brand, and marketing.  Whew.  That’s a tall order.  Maybe I’ll just take it one step at a time.

Finding your style, brand and identity takes time.  I know that.  I find it really helpful to write about it, so thanks for listening!  I am looking forward to infusing everything with my own personal style in the near future.  I know I have to find and define that style over time.  This is something I can’t – and don’t want to – rush.  It will be worth the wait.  So please bear with me as I discover myself along this journey!