My BHAG -- that without the Crew I never would have thought possible -- is now achieved!
When I first started my photography business, I wanted to help contribute to the family income. I had never had any business experience at all. Never took a single business or marketing class. In fact, I had zero interest in business.
I was an arty, literature/humanities kind of person. I had a strong background in art, and a good background in photography as far as aesthetics. I hadn't learned anything practical about photography, though. No studio work, no strobes, no ratios, nothing beyond talking about the work as art.
Yes, I had started a photography business (had to stop myself from putting quotes around that) when I was around sixteen. I took candid, natural-light portraits of kids playing in their backyards. This was back before digital. I developed the film and printed black-and-white prints. It was fun. I did it for one summer between high school and college.
Then I left photography and became a copywriter in New York City. I was a copywriter, then a headhunter (they couldn't find me a job but liked me and hired me), then a marketing writer for an insurance trade organization. I took a few ICP (International Center for Photography) courses, but really did nothing with photography.
I got married, then left the working world when I had my daughter. I did the stay-at-home mom thing until she was 16.
That's when things were a little tough, and I wanted to contribute.
On my own, I learned digital photography, learned Photoshop, and spent a year doing natural-light nature/fine art photography. I went to art fairs. I had a show. I self-published a photo book, then another. I tried stock photography.
I learned that none of this was going to make me money.
I went to the PhotoPlus Expo in NYC for five years in a row, taking classes/workshops in lighting, posing, children's photography, pet photography. I walked the expo floor to learn about equipment. I got some Elinchrom strobes.
I started doing family photography, and the occasional headshot. I had my clients sit on a stool, and used a clam-shell set-up. I bought stuff. For a couple of years, I spent more than I brought in. I wasn't really sure what direction I was going in. I took every job that came to me. I was using Thumbtack to get clients. I charged $300, edited every shot that looked decent and gave them everything.
Then I saw this guy on the expo floor. He was big and loud and funny. But what got me was how he took some random person from the crowd, got them up there, and within about 10 seconds shot the most extraordinary headshot I had ever seen.
He did it again. And again. And again. Each shot was amazing. Brilliant. And he made it look easy.
I thought, I gotta get me some of that. Took me three years to decide to get the Flex Kit. It was a scary investment.
I joined the Crew at the end of October, 2017.
It took me a full year before I began being active on the Crew. I thought I was already shooting pretty good -- I got good expressions after all. But I got reamed on critiques. I learned how to put my big-girl asbestos pants on, take the criticism, lick my wounds, and push on.
I learned to see and pay attention to details that I had never thought about, or noticed, before. I went on the Crew site daily. My work improved.
In January of 2021, I earned my Associate badge.
Not only did the Crew push the quality of my photography to the next level, but it taught me business skills. How to successfully run a photography business. How to price my work. TNT and the other business coaching let me take my photography skills and make a successful business from it.
This year, I reached the Big Hairy Audacious goal that I set last year. One that, before I'd joined the Crew, I wouldn't have believed possible. But Peter and all of you folks made me believe that I could do it.
This year, I joined the 100K club, with $107,000.
All of that is not even talking about the tremendous community here! The friendships, the support, the people who give so generously of their time.
Peter, you have made something incredibly special here. Truly, the Crew has changed, not just my business, but my life. I feel the support and community every day. I went from being isolated in my photography to being part of this amazing group.
For some reason, I couldn't figure out how to print out a yearly income chart showing my yearly progress (that business stuff!), but I was able to get this month-by-month chart, which begins about April of 2009, and goes through to the end of 2023 I think. The numbers after the months are years, not days.
Achieving the 100K goal was incredible. Being here with you folks, ready to keep learning and growing and supporting each other, is priceless.
Thank you, Peter! And thank you to all of you. Now, let's get going on next year's goals!!