who you know | personal | photography

as the saying goes:

it’s not about WHAT you know, it’s about WHO you know.

and before i say anymore, i just want to say this is what i believe. i’m sure this post might step on toes, but it’s been weighing on my heart and i feel like i NEED to talk about it. why? because i feel like there are other people out there that are going through the same thing and can understand the way i feel. maybe this can help you to know that you’re not alone. 🙂 also, i love everybody, so this is a LOVE post, not one of malice. just putting that out there! 😉

ever since i’ve entered into this crazy-yet-wonderful, photography world, i have noticed a few things. like most types of businesses there are some great perks and some bad ones. one thing i’ve noticed about this business is that it reminds me a lot like high school. i know other photographers have talked about this before and it’s so true. you have your popular photographers, the wannabes, the artsy “hipster” photographers, the seasoned photographers, and the newbies! there is a clique for everyone!

while it stinks that there are so many different cliques, it’s reality. something else i’ve noticed, is that it can tend to be about WHO you know. i see a lot of photographers out there who are SO passionate about their work and produce some amazing art, but they are considered “nobodies” because they aren’t connected to the rockstars of the industry. i feel like the photographers in these cliques, look out for their own and help each other succeed. but if you’re not in that group, you’re out of luck.

sometimes i feel like i would bust my butt, yet still not be noticed. i would think: “why are my sessions not being featured on these blogs?”, “how come i’m not invited to these photography hangouts?”, “why won’t they refer weddings to me?”. wah-wah-wah! yeah, someone call the wambulance, because my attitude was lame!

being the people pleaser that i am, i strived SO HARD to be noticed by the photographers i look up to. i wanted to be liked! if i just wore these clothes, and used this computer, and bought this equipment, and had these friends, while shooting x amount of weddings, THEN i would be successful. boy was i so wrong!

while i was thinking about this one night, it hit me. HARD! you know that lightbulb moment people get? well, mine was like an explosion! it finally clicked (yes, i’m a little slow). THIS is not about me. it never was and never will be. it’s about my clients! it’s not about how many “likes” my pictures get, or which conference i’m going to. it’s not about the number of views i get on my blog or the popularity contest i so often try to compete in. it’s about my clients and THEIR memories.

if they are in love with the photos and having fun, THAT’S what matters. if you are going to a workshop you’ve been dreaming about going to, but it’s not necessarily the “popular” one, who cares? you want to go because it’s fun and to learn more about your craft, right?! then do it! STOP trying to compete with everyone and do what’s best for you! if you like a certain type of camera, but your favorite photographer doesn’t, oh well! they are choosing what’s best for THEM. you choose what’s best for you!

i need to keep my eyes on the prize (working with wonderful clients and producing a fun experience for them) and stop glancing around at what everyone else is doing. i need to stop trying to be in the popular crowd. i need to be ME! and you need to be YOU!

one more thing: i talked about how i felt like it really matters WHO you know in this industry (or any industry for that matter) and how it can help you advance in this career. well, i’m going to try things a little differently now. i do believe it’s more about who you know than what you know, but now from a different perspective. while i believe it’s important to network and build professional relationships, i don’t feel that your sole business growth should come from that. be authentic and pave your own path. don’t get caught up in what you think you’re “supposed” to do, just because everyone else is doing it.

while i believe it’s important to work hard and be yourself, for me, it all comes down to Who i know. the only way ANY OF THIS is possible, is because of Him! my passion… this dream… came from Him. i believe He gave me this gift for a reason and i want to use it to honor Him. i can’t do that, if i’m coveting what He gave to someone else. instead, i need to be content with what He gave me. at the end of the day, i might not be a rockstar in the industry and i am FINALLY starting to be okay with that (big head, much?). He has a plan for me and i need to keep my eyes on Him. i need to stop trying to keep up with the joneses and focus on ways i can use my business for His purpose. as psalm 138:8 says, “the Lord will fulfill His purpose for me…”. He’s got a plan!

and because this post is a teeny bit longer than normal, i just wanted to sum it up for you in 3 easy points to be YOU:

1. stop trying to be popular and just be yourself – be friends with someone because you like them, not because you think it’s going to advance your career. do things because YOU like them, not because that’s what everyone else is doing! be authentic. it’s nice to learn from others, but stay true to yourself. don’t be a duplicate of someone else. embrace who you are!

2. remember why you’re doing this in the first place – photography is not about the materialistic side of being featured, going to workshops, and hanging with the elites. it’s about your CLIENTS. you know, the people who make this dream a reality! your clients are the reason you do this! focus on them and give them an amazing experience they’ll always remember! stay passionate and never forget why you fell in love with this “job” in the first place! 🙂

3. keep Him first – i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again. my life is so much more secure when i’m relying on His ways to help me through. He strengthens me and gives me the encouragement i need to make these dreams come to life! i pray i never forget that. He gave me this gift and i need to use it to show people His love. if i remember to do that, i’ll never go wrong.

PHEW! thanks for sticking with me through all of that and listening to my rambles! maybe i’m the only who has ever felt like this and maybe i’m not. either way, i hope this helps! 🙂

and because no post is complete without a picture…

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5 Comments

  • Well said sunshine!!!!! And that’s exactly why we had to have you!!!! Your passionate and it shows….. Im happy you see it 🙂

  • YES!!!! I love you for this!!!! Your heart is in the right place– I have been spending my nights answering emails from people so desperate to make money instead of slowly build a business for the right reasons– we are capturing amazing life moments……THAT is what is its all about!!!!! Xoxoxo

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I’M  Ashley

a Richmond, Virginia WEDDING & PORTRAIT Photographer

I’m Virginia Ashley, but my friends just call me Ashley! I’m a wedding photographer based in Richmond, Virginia. Even though I live in RVA, I travel all over for photography, which is awesome because I LOVE to travel! I’ve been as far as California and have my passport burning a hole in my pocket!

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