immerse-workshops-how-to-love-a-photographer
Can I show you how to love a photographer?  Because it seems like, these days, everyone knows a photographer. Maybe you’re married to one; maybe your sister is one; maybe your son or daughter is one. Maybe you are cube-neighbors at the office with one. Everyone knows that those special, light-chasing, pink-haired, coffee-drinking, gear-toting wonders of the world really are their own breed. Weirdos!  With all of their intriguing quirks in mind, do you know how to truly love the photog in your life?

IW-LoveAPhotogAre you speaking your photographer’s love language? It’s important, I promise.

My name is Cyrissa and I am the owner of Immerse Photography in Ohio as well as the voice behind Sparkle Society – an online community designed to encourage and empower photographers. I have ten years of experience teaching art in the classroom; a masters degree in art education; 5 years of experience running my own photography business, and now I teach photographers how to run lucrative well-managed photography businesses – to realize their own very own dreams – as well!

One of the things I’ve learned after working with thousands of photographers, is that they often feel misunderstood.  And while that is just part of pursuing an artistic career, oftentimes it’s also the result of us not knowing how to communicate our needs without worrying that we’ll hurt your feelings.  So we don’t speak the words we often need to say… and that does a disservice to us all.

Sidebar: I want to thank the hundreds of photographers who chimed in, shared your selfies, and contributed to the body of this post via my anonymous survey. As a whole, we are clearly feeling a resounding void. Thank you all for sharing your hearts; your insecurities; and your desires, to make this post come to life. I hope I accurately captured how you feel.  Much love….. xoxo

Over the course of my career – I’ve been a working mom; a stay-at-home-mom in the summers; and now I am the elusive, misunderstood work-at-home-mom. I love it, but…like many other work-at-home mamas, my passion; my time-management; my workload; my life… is all too often misunderstood.

When you work at home, you may be at home; but not really “at home.”  You’re still working.  And that gets confusing for everyone involved.

We seem like we should be available for a coffee date.  Or have the time to be PTO mom.  Or have a home cooked meal on the table every night.  Most people think we’re at home, we’re living the dream… but the reality is, we’re working just as much {if not more} than we would working in a traditional job.  The difference?  Our hours are weird, we’re working in our yoga pants {that part is awesome}, and Facebook is no longer fun… it’s work {I rarely get on Facebook for pleasure anymore – because when I do, I’m working}.  Even if we’re at home – I promise you, we’re still working!

Today, I want to help you understand all of the wonderful, passionate, work-at-home creatives around you and show you really how to love a photographer. Those who burn the midnight oil; those who spend their weekends and evenings traipsing through murky water and sticker bushes to get the best shot; and, those who need an IV bag filled with Highlander Grogg {or Diet Coke} infusing their veins at all times. It’s so important to know how to love a photographer!

{Sidenote, if you’re a photographer just starting out, you need to know you’re NOT alone.  My friends at Colorvale have an open letter just for YOU!}

Here are your need-to-knows, on how to love a photographer:

funny photography quotesThese are words straight out of their mouths.  These are the very things your photographer wants to say, but usually can’t find the words.  In starting this conversation, we also hope that you will share with us how YOU need to be loved.  If we’re doing a crappy job of loving you, we need to know.  Because especially in our busy season {October is usually insane for most togs}, we tend to lose ourselves in our work… and know that we may or may not be needing all of YOUR needs.  So, in the spirit of love and communication, let’s start the conversation, shall we?

 

1. Photography is one of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life.

As a photographer, we miss out. We miss out on family events; holidays; weekends; evenings; and even our kids’ milestones. We have a heart-aching void to be in of our own life’s picture, but it’s oddly coupled with a feeling of fullness and abounding joy when we get to take part in the life events (weddings; portrait sessions; engagements; newborn sessions; birth sessions; and more) of others. We are fueled. We are satisfied.  We feel loved.

We know that what we do matters.  Photos, especially to us, are WAY MORE than just ink on paper.  We’ve photographed families, only to hear days or weeks later that someone we photographed tragically passed away.  We’ve seen a new mom grieve while holding her brand new, but stillborn, child in her arms.  We’ve seen our work on your walls, displayed during funerals, and shared during some of the biggest events of your lives.  It’s our honor, and our joy, to serve you in that way!  When the years have passed, only the memories {and the photos} remain.

 

2. Your support and encouragement goes a long way… and inspires us to be our best!

So many photographers feel like no one understands (and maybe you don’t? we are a rare breed, after-all). So many photographers have a creativity-complex. We feel like we don’t stack-up. We aren’t good enough. We aren’t trained enough. We aren’t creative enough. When you tell the photog in your life that she is supported, loved, seen, believed-in…that goes so far. That, my friend, is how to love a photographer. It might take extra time on your part; it might be uncomfortable; you might be in unfamiliar territory because you don’t see photos like she does…but it’s worth it. It is so, so, worth it.  If you can’t say the words, start by sending a text.

“…Ask how my business is going or ask if you can help me somehow, share my name (referral) with others, encourage me with a ‘like’ or a ‘share’ on social media… it means the world to me!”

immerse workshops photography business photographersHonestly, engaging with us on social media is one of the most meaningful and easiest ways for you to support us.

What you may not know is that less than 10% of our social media fans actually see our posts… UNLESS people comment/like/share our posts.  Want a tip on how to love your photographer online?  Check this out!  There’s this fancy algorithm on Facebook and Instagram {fun fact: did you know Insta is owned by Facebook?!} that determines the “worth” of our posts.  If nobody interacts with a photo, Facebook and Instagram only show it to a handful of people {unless we pay to show it to more people}.  But when there’s lots of interaction with that same photo, the social platforms decide it’s “worth” more… and shows the post to more people!

Seriously.  You have no idea how much we value your “likes” and comments on our photos!  When you engage with our posts you are literally saving us money.  Pretend you’re handing your photographer a five dollar bill every time you comment on their posts!  We love it that much!  I mean, that’s at least one run to Starbucks!

Don’t believe me?  Check our your photographer’s Facebook page – have you seen EVERY one of those posts?  Nope.  How often you see a page’s posts is DIRECTLY related to how often you engage with that page.  And that goes for ANY small business on social media – not just us.

So be liberal with those likes and comments, people!  Your entrepreneurial friends depend on you!!!

 

3. Please respect that I am running a business.

Oh, maybe you thought I just snapped some pics with my fancy camera and photoshopped waistlines and added sun-flares here and there? I *can* see how you may think that, but please hear me. It takes $12,000 {at least} to start a photography business. It takes $3,000-$8,000 every single year to upgrade gear; purchase studio space; backdrops; marketing material; websites; convention tickets…you name it. We normally need to bring in $100-250 of profit per session to just break even {if we want to make a living wage, or even minimum wage, that number goes up}.

The costs involved with running a photography business are way higher than you may realize!

It’s no different than anyone else who runs a business. Yet, sometimes, we get flat-out asked for freebies. And, my dears, that is not how to love a photographer. When our friends, family and clients ask for discounts and free sessions – that puts us in an awkward place.  When you do this, we feel disrespected, unworthy, and taken advantage of… by some of the people we love and trust the most.  And that’s an uncomfortable feeling.

You see, our businesses aren’t just for fun. No, no. Our businesses exist to not only fuel our passion, but to help us pay the mortgage; to make a car payment; to pay employees; to pay insurance; to pay tuition; to buy clothes, food and school supplies for our kids; to give back to our churches and communities. While I would love to help you out, this business…my family relies on it. I don’t ask for part of your paycheck; while I am happy to help you when I can, please don’t ask for mine.

“I would rather be the one to ask if I can do a quick session, or offer to do a wedding at a discount than to have people cheapen my dreams of financial independence. Sometimes I can financially afford to offer discounts and sometimes I can’t.”

4. As your photographer, I want to share my journey with you.

immerse workshops photography businessI really do… but when we talk about our jobs, most people glaze over and get bored to tears.  So when we don’t talk about our day or tell you what we do, but it’s not because we don’t want to share!  We just really don’t think you’ll care about Lightroom updates; my ROI; or Sigma’s newest lens and the gorgeous bokeh it’s going to produce. But, you know what?

If you want to know how to love a photographer, just start asking questions.

Ask about my latest shoot; ask about some of my personal victories; ask what inspires me; tell me what you love about my photos; ask about my day. For every one hour we spend shooting photographs, we spend four to five hours editing and traveling. That’s a lot of alone time. While many of us love alone time, it can indeed get lonely.  In fact, when asked how often they feel lonely,

63% of photographers report struggling with feeling lonely on a regular basis.

That’s a crazy high number!  So, if you want to know how to love a photographer… simply engage with your photographer. Show her that what she does matters. Documenting the lives of others does indeed make a difference. Someday, in the circle of life, photos are all that’s left. And, I think that’s important. Don’t you?

 

5. How to love a photographer and encourage/support her (in tangible terms).

Just let me reiterate. Photographers are unique; special; sparkly; weird. We know this about ourselves.  If you want to know, straight-up, how to relate to and love your photographer, check out these suggestions. When they’re in the midst of busy season, struggling with self-doubt, or struggling to make ends meet, here are some things they want to hear:

  • “I’ve hired a cleaning lady, go to bed. Really.”
  • “Your going to make it and we’re going to help you achieve your goals.”
  • “You were meant to be a photographer…this is where you belong.”
  • “Wow you work really hard and you’re getting more and more talented. You’re great at what you do and you’re really making a difference.”
  • “Wow you look really pretty today {NOT, wow you’re still in your jammies!}”
  • “What would you like from Taco Bell?”
  • “What do you want from Starbucks?”
  • “What kind of wine should I bring you?”
  • “When I can watch the kids?”
  • “I never knew so much about what photographers really do, and I am proud of you for doing it all.”

how to love a photographerIf you’re already doing these things, your beloved photographer loves you and, chances are, you’re their favorite person in the world {even if they’re horrible at communicating that to you}!  Thank you so much for your support.  Here is how we feel when you encourage and support us….

  • “A million bucks!!!”
  • “Woo Hoo!! Yeah!! That was ME!!”
  • “I’m Encouraged to keep going; knowing they are proud of me.”
  • I’m the SHIZZZ!!!!”
  • “I can conquer any struggle this business can throw my way!”
  • “I’m a rockstar!”
  • “I’ve finally made it in their eyes… which brings me tears of joy!”
  • and, my personal favorite, “a rainbow colored unicorn with sparkly hair on top of a giant mountain!”

Your support.  Your kind words.  Your hugs.  Your love?  They matter to us.  And they matter WAY MORE than you think!  Read those reactions again… they’re quoted straight from the photographers who completed the survey.  Shoot, it may even be YOUR photographer that said one of those things!  But, a good rule of thumb {because not every photographer is the same}, is to ask them how they feel about this article before assuming they agree with everything!  This can be the start of a great conversation…

 

If you take the time to understand and learn how to love a photographer… they’ll be so grateful.  I promise.

At the end of the day, we just want to show and receive grace. That means we need to know when we’re not meeting your needs too!  We want to help others. We want to build that storyline in pictures and know that it matters. We thank you for supporting us when sometimes we are so unsure about ourselves.  We don’t always know how to communicate that to you…. so take this as our attempts to start a conversation with you.  To open the door.  To bring you into our story.  And our journey.  Because sometimes it’s lonely… and we want you to link arms with us and go along for the ride.

We thank you for loving us; for attempting to understand; and for the coffee. Really, really, for the coffee.

If you’re a a photographer looking for more education and encouragement, I’d love to have you join Sparkle Society. This is a free space on the interwebs, designed to empower and encourage photographers just like your #hawt sparkly self. Click here to join us where you’ll be loved and valued as a member forevermore… plus I’ll send you a free mini-workshop of your choosing!  So that’s kinda fun too!  You don’t need to go this journey alone, will you join us?!

immerse workshops cyrissa

ps – if you loved this, please comment below and let me know what you think!  Or, if you really want to earn my unending appreciation, use the hot pink links below to share out on social media!  Yes?  Let’s open the doors of communication and love!

how to love a photographer

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38 Comments

  1. Cyrissa!!!
    You’re amazing! Thank you so much for gathering all of this information! I am definitely guilty of not communicating how the pressures of running my own business makes me feel {and stress}! I am sharing this NOW with all of my family and friends! Much love!!! xoxo

  2. Thank you! I’m in tears, good tears. This is everything I have ever wanted to say all wrapped up nice and pretty for everyone to read. I’m sharing and showing lots of love to this post to come back to again and again!

    1. yay, laura!!! i won’t lie…. i was a little nervous letting it go live because i really wanted to accurately portray what you all said in the survey! it makes me SO HAPPY to know it’s speaking to you!!! xoxo

  3. Thank you for saying what we are all feeling and have no idea how to even put into words to accurately share those feelings! Your heart for fellow photogs is amazing and you need to know how appreciated you are, like really, you’re the best!!! Hugs!!!

  4. I love this with huge, red warm fuzzy hearts, and I’m posting on everything I can get my untrimmed, unbuffed nails on! Add to it when we have WAAAAY too many OTHER hobbies as well. Yep! <3

  5. This is so incredible and brave for you to share! You’ve outlined everything. Hearing others say “I wish I could work from home.” Or everyone talking about their day at work and how much they hate their manager and when they ask me I feel like all I can say is “fine.” Because I don’t want them to think I’m bragging, or to tell the truth that I sat at my computer for 8 with 3 day old hair and in my PJs because I had to start editing right away and park it there all day to catch up… Or rushing to something for friends or family after a wedding or shoot, and even though I’m exhausted, they expect me to be there chipper and happy, hiding my inner grumpy zombie because I’m just so tired. The thing I struggle with most is their doubt of me and what I do. When someone asks, “What do you charge for weddings anyway,” and when I tell them their eyes get big and they throw their head back in disbelief. They just see me as Morgan. Not as the Morgan that spent an entire year second shooting and shadowing before she shot her first paid wedding, or the girl who has spent THOUSANDS on education, workshop, mentoring, and growing. In addition to the thousands spent on the best equipment I could afford. They also don’t understand why I drive an ancient car, but it’s because we have bills to pay and every spare cent I make goes into my business. #endrant I would melt if my family and friends said or did any of these things for me. They have no idea how much it would mean, and I never felt like I could tell them, so thank you for doing that for me <3

    1. thanks for your encouragement! hitting that publish button was pretty nerve wracking! i hoped i had captured everyone voices and clearly communicated them… but in a positive light! *whew* it was pretty emotional!!!

  6. I loved this so much, Cyrissa! Thank you for saying what I would wish to say in ways I could never say it.

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