Last weekend, I photographed a wedding in Northern Michigan - one of my favorite places to visit. As you can imagine, I had a wonderful time. The weather was perfect, the wedding was beautiful, and the photographs turned out great. In reality, all of those things were great, but what made it a truly incredible weekend was that Beth and the girls were able to travel with me.
In reality - I love what I get to do. I love photographing weddings. I love being a part of the important moments of people's lives. It's a privilege and an honor - one that I take seriously. But, all of that is small, compared to the opportunity I have to live in the important moments of my family.
Running a small business isn't easy. It's not supposed to be. It's hard work and long days, and it's often very stressful. That's the life of a small business owner. At the same time, it comes with a great reward - freedom.
One of the things I hear from photographers, is how hard it is to balance work-life and family-life. It's hard to figure out where the boundaries are - or even what boundaries are! For me, the answer is about perspective - and it's about understanding why I do what I do.
It's pretty easy to end up with a small business that consumes you - and your life. There really is a lot to do, but your photography business doesn't have to own you. By starting with an understanding of why your business exists, you can put everything else in perspective - including boundaries.
My business exists to:
Add value to my family, by adding value to my clients.
I value my clients greatly, but I value my family more. In fact, it’s only because of my family that I own a business. The minute it stops allowing us to meet our family and financial goals, and allowing me to meet my personal and artistic goals, it’s no longer worthwhile. Here are a few of the things that might help define boundaries that make it easy to focus on that mission statement.
- Always take at least one day off a week with family. For us, it doesn’t matter what we do, we just do it consistently (every week) and we do it together.
- Maybe for you it would help to not check email after 6PM. I try to not use the computer after 6PM. There’s nothing that happens in my business that can’t wait until morning.
- Keep to set “work hours.” If you don’t define them, you’ll find yourself working all the time.
- Don’t bring work home. No matter what. Don’t edit photos from home, don’t reply to client emails from home, and don’t answer your phone when you get home. Keep work at work.
Last weekend, I took more than 1,000 photos. The wedding was gorgeous, and the couple was stunning. The details were flawless, and I had a great time. But the photo above is far and away my favorite. That's Maddie, running on the beach. And that's why I do what I do.