I've lately really been faced with looking at my value as a small business owner and in my craft. This running a business thing for a full time income is not for the weary! Its hard work you guys! Seriously... Who would've thought? ;) haha..... But seriously - What do I value about my work and my business... What do I want clients and potential clients to value about my work and business? Pretty Images....? I'm not so sold.
While I have spent a good 6-ish years developing and honing in my craft as a photographer, and in editing... (And plan to continue doing so.... ) I've come to realize that I value my work because it is something that I put my heart and soul into. I want to get to know my clients, not just pop some photos in a gallery and send them on their way, never to be heard of again until next Fall for family photos or the next stage of life. I want to be excited about editing and post processing, because I know how perfect a certain expression matches a person, how I KNOW I grabbed a good shot of the toddler who won't sit still... ever. lol! How I caught that daddy daughter relationship that you value or the history in something as simple as a funny face phase that will probably pass in a few short months... or Might be the beginning of something that will stick around and give a good laugh a few years down the road.
I haven't always been successful in developing a proper relationship prior to my photoshoots, but the types that it has worked out in that way have honorably turned out to be some of my best work. It can be hard to develop a relationship with my client at times... especially when you know me enough to know....that I'm not the best conversation starter with people I don't know well! (unless there is just something driving me to randomly ask you to be my friend... lol... I've never done such a thing! *that sounds desperate....moving on*) but it's not difficult to do if that is what YOU, as my potential client expect. If you KNOW that I care to see a glimpse of your family values, the dynamics in the relationships you wish to capture, or the phase you're dying to freeze in time... You will be more apt to share those things with me if going in, you know that I care to know them! If you know that knowing you, and your "WHY" for wanting my work, makes my work BETTER.... it is likely that we will develop a bit of an understanding and rapport with each other before our session.... a connection. You won't be one to freeze or get quiet when I ask about when you two met, or who the funny one in the family is.....Right? Are you following or am smacking a nail with a crayon?
My work is valuable to me. I want it to be valuable to YOU but... I can't make that happen without first valuing it myself. Which is why I've been reflecting on what puts the Valisa in Valisa Henderson Photography?... and allowing more of myself to infiltrate my brand.
It IS valuable to many of my clients, and to those who have valued my work before I saw it's value - I am truly thankful! When I asked myself, "What is it about a client who values my work?" The answer landed me back to ... relationships. Those that ask and ask and ask when I'm planning to come visit and make sure I'm planning on scheduling shoots while I'm there - shows me that My work is VALUABLE to them. Granted I know I have clients HERE in Northern California and Southern Oregon that value my work, for sure! But I feel my point is made clear with Arizona; There are TONS of photographers in Phoenix, Arizona; seriously. REALLY great ones... but when I visit that city... I have clients ready in waiting... because I have formed relationships with those that value my work. I have grown with them, or they have grown with me... one or the other, or both I guess ;).... It is NOT because I'm the best photographer (Because I do not possess that horn to toot!)... My work is something that I want to promote... yes, but also protect. Because it's valuable. Why have I transitioned to selling prints and not just passing around digital files like they're candy? Because the color calibration matters, the way I crop something matters, the time I spend working on my business, the time I spend with you, and FOR you behind the scenes, the care and diligence I spend crafting your images... because of the relationship I like having with my clients... is worth far more than the changes and manipulations that non-professional, corner-store printing options do to *ahem* ENHANCE *???* your photos... i.e. my art, that I value. Can you see how without that connection and relationship... it could be hard to value my work? I do know that that does not allow for just anyone to pop in and value my work in the way that I pray my past, present and future clients will. And I have to accept that. Not everyone will agree with how I do things... and in finding VALUE in my business lately - I've learned that THAT IS OKAY. There will be others out there, and how they do business is valued by a different niche of clients. I want to attract those that find value in and appreciate my work, value in my one-woman-show business, and value in the ME inside my brand.