August 31, 2015

Three Ways to Stay Inspired in Busy Season | Hello (Almost!) Fall!

If you know a photographer, you know this: Fall is the craziest time of the year.

But! When you’re a wedding photographer in Northwest Arkansas? Spring, summer, and fall are the craziest time of the year. I mean, I don’t want to sound disloyal to the insanity of fall or anything, but here’s a snapshot of my July calendar – also known as my most mellow month since March:

Crazy, right?! I am the luckiest photographer. I get to photograph so many amazing couples and seniors and families and weddings and, honestly, my work life could not be better. I love my clients (and my job!) so much and am just so happy that I am able to photograph people for a living. Photography is the most amazing job and it also comes with the most chaotic schedule and, because of this, I thought it would be fun to write a quick tutorial for the photographers out there who are starting their very first busy season. When you’re shooting clients nearly every day, it can sometimes be hard to stay inspired and, because inspiration is key for both new and seasoned photographers alike, I thought I would share my favorite three ways to stay inspired during crazy busy times. All of our clients deserve our very best work and, for me, the three things below help me keep my eyes fresh and my photographs creative for all of my clients whether their photographs are taken in the dead month of January or the crazy busy of October. So! Let’s get started!

NWA Senior Photographer Lissa Chandler, Senior Portraits in Arkansas,

One: Look at What You are Shooting!

Keep your eyes open when you are shooting! It is so easy to get focused on one specific thing – maybe you really, really want to photograph a close up of a couple’s hands or you’ve challenged yourself to photograph a senior in a specific pose – but, sometimes, when we get uber focused on one thing, we miss the good stuff happening right in front of us. If you need a moment to think about a pose, have your subjects walk away from you and, as you photograph them walking, think of what you want to do next. When you put your subject in a specific pose, stand back (or stand closer!) and double check that they are situated right where you want them. Don’t be afraid to re-do a pose or say “Nope!” when a pose isn’t working. Even if you’re photographing your fifth session in one week, this is your client’s first (and only!) session and it is just as important as the first session you shot of the entire season. Don’t just go through the motions! If you think about what you are doing at each and every step of a shoot, the quality of your photographs is going to skyrocket. This is good at any time of the year but, in busy season, it’s even better. New ideas lead to newer ideas and those newer ideas lead to even more newer, better ideas. Busy season, I believe, is the best time of year for these ideas to flourish – when else are you going to shoot so much?

Two: Carve Out Time for Yourself + Pick Up a Hobby.

I have learned this one the hard way. I am very much so a perfectionist. I want everything to be put away nicely and orderly and I walk this fine line of total organization and total chaos all of the time. But! Recently! I’ve learned to embrace the chaos with open arms. Running your own business is time consuming. It is a constant shuffle of roles, even down to the kind of clothing worn. On Saturdays, I’m all about dresses. On weekdays, I’m always wearing oversized shirts (my favorites are from Impressions!) and leggings and I’m lucky if I shower before noon – or get in bed before midnight (where, half the time, I stay up for another hour brainstorming ideas or writing blog posts). So! Because of this! It can be really hard to make time for yourself!

Think about it: Most people don’t only do their job. Most workers in the work force have a set amount of hours of work every day and, as photographers, we can have that, too. True, wedding photographers can’t take Saturdays off but they can take off Mondays or Wednesdays and they can also choose to take off an entire month if they want – it all ebbs and flows and, the happier you are as a person, the better your work is going to be. And if you’re a mom like me? Your kids are going to be way happier when you schedule time to pull yourself away from work. Way. Happier.

As a mom, I also strongly believe in outsourcing as much as possible. I am very particular about my photographs and also a very (very!) hands-on mother so Andrew and I outsource a ton of work that I used to do by myself because, for us, the benefits outweigh the cost. My accountant is in charge of my taxes. My husband is in charge of the laundry. A cleaning service is in charge of the deep cleaning of our house. A lawn service is in charge of our lawn. Preschool is in charge of Max during preschool. Our babysitter is in charge of the boys once a week. Chipotle, Slim Chickens, and Chick-fil-A are in charge of dinner several times a month (and sometimes several times a week – and that’s okay occassionaly!). Alarms on my phone are in charge of telling me when I should be finishing a task. When we moved across town, we hired movers. When I make a dinner that can be frozen, I make twice as much as we need and then my freezer is in charge of freezing extra food for a not-too-far-off busy day. And our crock pot? It is my very best friend. Yes! Most of these things cost money but, because they help me with time management and, more importantly, allow us to find family time in the middle of a crazy season, they are absolutely worth it. They are not worth it for everyone but they are worth it to me. I’d way rather take my kids to the park than spend my morning cleaning! I do not feel inspired when I am cleaning (and I say that as someone who actually loves deep cleaning!), but I do feel inspired and refreshed when spending time with my loved ones. Everyone does!

And hobbies! Those are so good, too! I don’t care if your hobbies are binge watching Pretty Little Liars on Netflix or taking hour long bubble baths or traveling around the world or shopping at the local mall or playing fantasy football or playing actual football or talking on the phone for three hours while painting your nails. Hobbies are so important for everyone! When I entered my first busy season as a photographer, I dropped all of my hobbies for a long time. I couldn’t keep up with them! As time has gone on, though, I’ve picked up more and more of my old hobbies. I love to bake and to decorate and to crochet and to DIY furniture and to spend my afternoons at antique stores and to spend hours curled up in a blanket reading books (I LOVE to read!) and, most of all, I love to play piano. We just got a piano – my parents gave us my childhood piano when we moved into our house – and having that has added so much enrichment to my life over the past month. It’s so nice (and such a stress reliever!) to stop editing, play piano for twenty minutes, and then come back and finish editing. It makes me a happier person and it makes my work better, too (and yes! That is totally the theme of this whole post!). Don’t let go of your hobbies! If anything, make them stronger!

Three: Shoot for Yourself.

I strongly believe in shooting for yourself, no matter how crazy your schedule is. Shooting for yourself is good for so many reasons – too many reasons to count. The easiest way to do this is to set up a session that you want to shoot. Maybe you want to photograph a bride in a vintage blue dress (I did!) or a senior in a greenhouse or a couple in their home. No matter what it is I want to shoot, I always feel so refreshed and on point after I shoot a session I’ve created myself. So! Think of an idea, post a casting call (or ask a friend to model!), and then go out and bring your vision to life. We all fell in love with photography for so many reasons and, most likely, a lot of us fell in love with photography because we love to create. Don’t let that get away from you!

If you are totally slammed and unable to set up a shoot for yourself – or just don’t want to because you want a night at home! (I’ve been there!) – you can totally shoot for yourself at sessions, too. As professional photographers, it is so important to create images that our clients love. If you’ve been hired by a client, you were hired for a reason and your clients should trust you. That alone should help you feel inspired! Nothing makes me feel better than when my clients trust me to photograph them how I see them because, when I’m able to shoot from my heart and try to make my client’s personalities sing in their photographs, it feels like fire. It’s amazing! You do not have to set up a styled shoot to shoot for yourself. You should shoot for yourself at every single session and keep that creative spark alive – even if it’s only for five minutes. You deserve it and your clients deserve it, too.

Fayetteville Arkansas Wedding Photographer, Engagements at Lake Fayetteville,

And whew! I thought this post would be maybe 500 words and instead it’s nearly 1700.

So! I’ll just leave it like this: This busy season, don’t just go through the motions! Keep your eyes open, carve time out for yourself, outsource what you can, and shoot for yourself at every single session and wedding. If you do this, I promise that you’ll have more fun, fall more in love with photography, and, most of all, you’ll feel like yourself instead of a feeling like your camera has taken hold of your identity. Photographers are artists! Embrace this and have an AMAZING busy season this fall, y’all!

Weddings | Engagements | Seniors | Families | Personal

Inquire About Your Wedding Date + Book A Session With Lissa Chandler Here

Seperator -1Seperator -1