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Mistakes Photographers Make

Lesson 3 from: Find Your Niche and Build Your Family Photography Business

Julia Kelleher

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Lesson Info

3. Mistakes Photographers Make

Lesson Info

Mistakes Photographers Make

Let's talk about the mistakes that most photographers make when it comes to this. First of all they shoot like everyone else. Big mistake. We all do it when we first start out, we all do it, trust me I did it. Where you see pretty things and we're like "Oh I'm going to shoot that. I'm going to try that. Oh it's so pretty I gotta do that." Okay? It's just the nature of the beast, especially when we're starting out, okay? We're first getting into our craft, getting good at being photographers. You have to 'copy' everyone else in order to learn the technique and get good at something before you make it your own, right? It's a natural thing. Artists, craftsmen, back in the old days these woodworkers, they used to have them apprentice under masters and copy the master exactly before they would let them out on their own. Nowadays we 'poo poo' it and say "You're copying me!" That's what they used to do back in the day to train apprentices to become craftsmen. They had to learn the technique a...

nd skill by copying the master and once the master felt like their technical expertise was up there, they would set them out on their own to be creative and make their own individual pieces. It's the same thing with photography. When you shoot like everyone else, yes, you have to do it in the beginning, but as you begin to get more and more into your business and more and more into your art, you must start being yourself. And with seven billion people on the planet, every single one of us is different. God made us all different. We all have different hearts, we all have different minds, we all have different bodies, we all have different looks, we all have different everything. Which means the way we create and think is different. Maybe subtle differences, but we're different. And by owning that and being unique to yourself you're going to see things start to climb in your business as well as in your own confidence in what you're doing. The second mistake photographers make is they try too hard to fit what the client wants. So I've done this too. Like the mom comes in with some headband that's five sizes bigger than the child's head. It's white. Bright white. We're talking like super white. We were laughing the other day because my background is super white. Super white! And like five times too big! You're sitting here going okay. "Oh grandma made it. We have to get it in the shot." (pained laugh) No. Right? Been there, done that, got that t-shirt. Most, because we want to make people happy, right? Most photographers go "oh okay we'll do it." There is a point in your career where you're like "No. Not happening. My sandbox. My play area. You can come in but it's my rules and we ain't doing that." Obviously how you handle that is tactful and kind. It is grandma's peony. So we have to show respect, but when you try too hard to fit the client or worse yet ask the client what they want don't do it. I know it's the, it comes from a place of goodness. You want to make them happy and serve them. But it's the worst mistake you could make because they're coming to you as the expert and as the professional. So when you say "what would you like?" They don't know. How are they supposed to know? They don't do this for a living. So you're not serving them. As a matter of fact, you're hurting them by doing that. By having a defined niche, having a defined style, shooting the way you shoot, authentically Jen, or Chelsea, or Amy, then all of a sudden the client's coming to you for you. You get to control and dictate what happens. And that allows you to confidently produce the art you want to make, right? Now of course there's a whole host of issues that come up. The little voice in your head that goes "Yeah but you suck. If they tell you what to do then it's their fault, not yours." You know? That's kind of just a confidence, growth thing that needs to come as you do more and more and get more experienced and know you can nail it every time. But try not to let the client dictate what happens. It really is the kiss of death. They're inconsistent. They're willy nilly. They're all over the place. "Oh I'll shoot this here, I'll shoot that there." They have no set parameters on their work. There's a point in your career where you start to go "Oh that's a really cute bucket, but it's so not me." You get my point? I mean Hobby Lobby is the worst store ever for this. You walk through and be like "Oh it's so cute. That would be so cute with a baby in it." And then you're like "No that's not me!" Shove that aside. So there is a point where you have to stay consistent and true to yourself. So being inconsistent will hurt you eventually. In the beginning I get it, but you guys, we all talked before we came on the air here. You're all at the point now where you can start to be yourself and get consistent in what you love as an artist. And then finally no confidence. This is one of those things that comes over time. And sometimes you know, you fake it til you make it. There's a sign out in the lobby of Creative Live that says "Make it til you make it." I'm like "That is so true. You make things until you make it." I used the mantra 'fake it til you make it' for so many, I still use it to this day. I'm still like "Oh I'm such a fraud. I'll just fake it til I make it." You know? But sometimes you have to fake confidence a little bit. But when you can do that and go "Okay I can make this happen", believe in what you're doing, it will come to fruition. Sarah, my content producer, and I were talking about this this morning. It's so true that the thing that kills 99% of the world's dreams is the voice in your head. You guys all know, I call him George. That's my name. Sorry for all the moms who have adorable children named George. But really that voice in your head, George, he's the one who kills your dreams. Here's what's funny. I'm thinking about producing another class that's next year. I'm like "Julia you really have to produce that class." But then I'm like "but I'm not really qualified." You start to doubt, right? Well then I think "what if my competition down the street makes it before I do?" Then George is going to be on my ass going "You didn't do it! You idiot! What were you thinking?" So he's going to, you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't. He's always going to be there telling you you suck no matter what the circumstance so why are you listening? Do you know what I mean? He kills all dreams. It's when you listen that your dream will die. So I told Sarah this morning, I said the key to tackling George is to work in spite of him. He's never going away. He'll always be there. Here I am 10, 11 years in the business and I still got the idiot on my shoulder, okay? So it never goes away. It's a matter of working through it. No matter what. And letting your belief system go "Yes I can do this." Major sports players out there, they believe they're going to win. The ones who falter and go "Oh I might not win" those are the ones who bomb in competition. The really true good competitive athletes are the ones who get in that, they call it The Zone, and they power through and they believe they can win. It's the same thing in business. It's the same thing in any endeavor that we do. So confidence. It's not so much a mistake, but something that we all need to kind of work on. Alright, so basically photographers who appear willy nilly and scattered aren't doing it right. The client sees this. We've gotta be careful of that. They're all over the place. They kind of appear unprofessional. They may not realize it at the time, but I kind of want to make you aware of it so you can analyze yourself and go "Am I kind of scattered and all over the place? And does that make me appear unprofessional?" Oh, we need to change this. I call it taking the 40,000 foot view of your business and you for that matter. It's important to do on an a weekly, monthly basis as an entrepreneur. So it kind of makes you not look like an artist anymore. You're kind of just a photographer and I want you guys to be artists. You become un-unique like you look like everybody else which is a commodity and what happens when people see commodities? They could just buy it down the street for cheaper. It's the same thing. They go to the photographer down the street who is $100 cheaper, right? So analyze your work, look at it hard, take a hard uncomfortable look at your business and your work and say to yourself "Am I a commodity?" Can you get what I offer down the street? And if that's the case, change it up. And that's why we're here in this class.

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Ratings and Reviews

Courtney Ranck-Copher

I own I think all of Julia's classes. This is probably my favorite. I will say that it's because its exactly the type of photography I have been wanting to focus on. So the information was extremely valuable to me. But I do love all of Julia's classes and you can learn so much from her as a mentor regardless of the type of portraits you shoot. Thanks Julia for a wonderful class I have watched it multiple times!


As always, Julia never disappoints! It has been so awesome to watch her work with such incredible intention, from concept to session to sales. Her energy and strategy are so motivational and very, very creative! This class rocks from start to finish, and is a perfect addition to my Creative Live business arsenal! Five stars all the way!!!!!

Amy Vaughn

My favorite part was seeing how Julia's business evolved over time and transformed into what it is today. Good tips for finding inspiration to develop a niche and practical marketing advice. I'm glad I took this alongside Tamara's business class - the two photographers had very different approaches to their business and shooting family photography in many ways, but it really illustrators how there's no one way to do everything. I learned so much from both of them.

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