Almost a year ago now — before we even embarked on our travels — I wrote about putting my portrait and wedding photography business on hold. I was completely burned out and I wasn’t sure that I’d ever return to photography as a profession.
While I was avoiding my camera like the plague, I did some soul searching. My friend, Dawn, and I worked through Artist’s Way exercises together. I took art classes, including lampwork, art clay and jewelry making. And I learned a few things.
First, I realized that I need an artistic outlet to be happy. If I haven’t gone on an “artist date” to explore galleries or undertaken a creative project recently, my world starts to become a little gray.
I also realized that the arts aren’t enough by themselves. Before I opened my photography business, I was a consultant to nonprofits and I love that kind of creative problem solving. It’s sick, I know, but business strategy makes me giddy. I love gathering data, brainstorming ideas and outlining an approach tailored to a person’s or organization’s unique position and strengths.
The state of the photography industry has concerned me for quite a while. Because everyone has a website these days, it’s easier than ever for prospective clients to compare photographers quickly and ruthlessly. It’s easy for photographers themselves to check up on their competition and to borrow ideas from industry leaders. I could go on for days about the state of the industry but bottom line: It’s becoming commoditized.
Photographers, instead of becoming more stylistically differentiated with all of the amazing technological possibilities, are looking more similar. As a result, clients are comparing us based on price. As artists and business people, we don’t want that. First, we each want to believe we offer something unique and special to the marketplace, and second, if we’re all the same, we can no longer make a living wage doing what we love. So, I’ve decided to do something about this.
Over coffee in Auckland, Brian and I developed a model to help photographers identify their unique gifts and refine all of their human complexities into a narrowly defined, powerful brand message. While we were in Melbourne, I wrote and tested a workshop with some of my lovely photographer friends. And now, from our apartment in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I’m ready to share what I’ve been working on with the world. I’m so excited to announce my new business, Art Aligned.
My website is still in development but I already have a free audio program and companion worksheet available for download. My three-month Art Aligned workshop is also ready to go, and I’m just waiting for my website to be finalized before I announce the upcoming dates.
I wanted to share this process of self-discovery with you, but I had to move through some of my own issues first. Namely:
- Who am I to deliver this message?
- Resistance: I want to help but I don’t want to put myself out there again.
- Burnout: Am I really ready to do this?
With the help of Marcy Nelson-Garrison and my peers in her product-development coaching group, I was able to work through these issues and am now doing a happy dance of celebration. Even if this movement never makes the big time, I’m happy to be able to help individual photographers here and there bring the best of themselves to their businesses. And that is enough.
I have a ton of other ideas to get to work on, but I’m going to take this moment to pause, celebrate and share, and I hope you’ll join me. Today, February 22nd, there is an all-day, virtual launch party for the members of my coaching group. Lots of free goodies, cool prizes, and links to get to know the wonderful women I’ve worked with these past four months. I hope you’ll drop by.