I absolutely love writing advice articles and blogs for photographers but this particular topic is one that I’ve been waiting to write about for quite some time. Why did I wait? Honestly – because I didn’t want anyone to feel singled out… because today’s blog topic is all about how being successful can cost you friendships.
When you’re a beginner in the field of photography, everyone suddenly becomes your best friend. Even if you only want to shoot one particular genre, like weddings, all of a sudden you find yourself being asked to shoot baptisms, anniversary parties, newborns, maternity and family sessions – oh, and you’ll be asked to do it for free. At least the majority of the time. There will be people that ask you to bring your camera long for “a few quick shots”. There will also be those that ask you things like “Well if you want experience for your portfolio, you can come take family pictures of us!” Although they make it seem like they’re doing you a favour by offering their family for a session; they are actually the ones who are benefiting from the free photos, especially since you’re a wedding photographer, not a family photographer!
Whether you learn this from a wedding photography workshops, have a mentor or simply come to the realization on your own – there will come a point early in your career that you realize that you need to bust your butt 24/7 in order to success. In fact, you’d bust your but 25/8 if there was more hours in the day and days in the week.
This is where a lot of entrepreneurs “make it or break it”. Not everyone has the stickto-it-iveness to make it past this phase. While there are ways to balance entrepreneurship with a social life, many don’t achieve a proper balance which is why you see a lot of small businesses disappear after a year or two in business. Making it to the 3rd-year-mark is difficult, but with enough elbow greast you can get there. (And for any of you out there who are unsure if stick-toit-iveness is actually a word, please consult Season 8 of the Simpsons)
The thing about hard work; however, is that it comes at a price. You typically spend every Saturday shooting a wedding, second shooting a wedding or assisting at a wedding. On Sundays you shoot engagement session. In between you have to edit, work on your website, schedule and attend meetings and continue your learning through workshops and courses. Sometimes you have a spare couple of hours to hang out with your friends, but it’s usually on a Wednesday morning when everyone else is at work. The thing with wedding photography is that you’re generally working when your friends are not: nights and weekends. Eventually, your friends will get tired of you never making it out to parties, barbecues or impromptu gatherings and they’ll just stop inviting you. There will be a point when you feel like a lot of your friends have left.
But don’t worry – they come back!…. after you’ve created a sustaining, profitable and successful business.
Oh, you bet your sweet bippy that they come back; once you’ve made it, you’ll realize that everyone wants to be your friend. There’s an episode in The Simpsons where Lisa gets a pool and then Sherri and Terri say to her “Isn’t it amazing, the same day you got a pool is the same day we realized we liked you? The timing worked out great, don’t you think?” This couldn’t be more true for life as a successful entrepreneur. Everyone wants a piece of you; and for a steep discount because they’re your “friend”.
This is where things can get difficult; you don’t want to say no to everyone, but you can’t sell yourself short, either. After all, if these people were really your friends, where were they when you were over-tired and burning the candle at both ends in order to ensure a successful business? Wherever they were – they probably weren’t thinking about you. Sorry, but it’s true.
Then comes the final phase; the phase where you realize who your true friends are. The friends who have taken the time to learn how to support a friend with a small business, the friends who go out of their way to ask you, 3-months ahead, to make dinner plans because they know how busy you are, the friends who understand if you forget to reply to Facebook messages or texts. Those are the friends that matter and they will be there for you.