As I sit here on this lazy, rainy Sunday afternoon I'm reminded of why I'm writing this in the first place.
It was about this time 7 years ago that I posted the picture to Facebook that, I consider, kicked off my career in photography. The picture is of Katie at just 2 years old and Rocco, just shy of his first birthday. They're standing in my backyard. Happy. I had been fed up of the studios in the mall with kids working there who didn't: 1. Know me or my kids at all. 2. Care about their minimum wage job 3. Care about the outcome of the photos and 4. Consider my current theory of "whatever it takes for smiles". They were just there to click a button and I was fed up. Fed up of waiting for my turn with two kids who were past their happy time when I finally got to sit them down under the lights. I had a "nice camera" so I began to play with my kids as my subjects.
Photography has evolved in the last 7 years. When I first started, there weren't nearly as many people practicing outdoor photography as there are now. Newborn photography like I offer now, I didn't even know that was a thing. Cake smashes, either. People just didn't do them or at least I didn't know about it.
So seven years ago, I was a stay at home mom. With two kids. I was looking for a hobby or a part time job and that's where it all started. After I posted that photo to Facebook, I believe I took three family's Christmas card pictures that year. And the rest as they say, is history.
My family has been the building blocks of my business. My job, as always, revolves around my kids. When they were little and I had a shoot to go to, I would take them to my mom's house. When I started, I only had a couple of shoots a month... If that. A few years later, I was working many hours a week, running kids to preschool and picking them up two hours later. Shooting non stop. Editing all night. Then, I couldn't wait til they were done with half day kindergarten so I'd have full days to work uninterrupted and edit during the day and not have to be awake all night. Well, that didn't happen either. The emails kept coming, and I got busier. This past year, I was busier than ever. I even cut back. And somehow I was busier than I've ever been. I go to bed at 2 or 3 am most nights. I'm never fully caught up. The guilt I feel if I take a night off from editing...? It's ridiculous and if I tried to describe it to you, you'd call me crazy.
My point is, I always thought, "once the kids are bigger, things will be easier!" Not sure what I was thinking but now that they're older things are harder than ever. Baseball, basketball, karate, dance... No consistent babysitter, so it's usually: RUSH as fast as humanly possible to make it from the studio to my driveway to get them from the bus (many times it involves me chasing the bus down the road to the last stop on the route and waving like 'that mom' at the bus driver because I missed the bus, AGAIN!!!), rushing them to my mom's so my dad can take them to whatever after school activity while I go to my evening shoots, the hubs calling me to see where he's picking them up from, coming home and again, rushing, trying to make it for bedtime prayers before the kids go to bed. Eating dinner for myself. Then around 9 I head downstairs to edit til 2 am (ish).
Even though I write a version of this blog, every year at this time... I somehow revert to my old ways. After much thought and consideration, scratching my head and saying "how did this happen again".... I've chalked up my busyness this year to one thing...
Ohhhhh, the list. Last year, I posted about the list. How if you needed a session anytime throughout the year, contact once and we will contact you when I open booking for that quarter, and before I open it up to the public. It was a very awesome way for you to get it done once, and it was perfect for me and Tanya when booking the current quarter. Although we never promised being on the list guaranteed a session, I always accommodated everyone to the best of my ability. Well, two weeks ago when Tanya and I met up to go over the schedule and choose my work days for the next few months, I realized my stress and crazy scheduling issues stem from the overwhelming list. I would have people on the list that "need a Tuesday evening in fall" for example. Well, now to accommodate that Tuesday evening in the fall means I'm probably going to miss one of my son's baseball games. That's just a random example that might not even be accurate but some variation of that request covered the list. I left the dinner meeting with Tanya sick to my stomach and crying. I realized something had to give.
The number of people needing a fall session outdoor this year, who are on the list, who do not include my brides and grooms needing engagements or the 14 weddings I'm shooting in the next 3 months, total over 50! Fall colors are only in their prime in the last two weeks of October and if we're lucky, the first week of November. It is physically impossible for me to do it all. So, after much thought, I have decided I am only going to offer outdoor half sessions this fall. Typically my full sessions are 45 minutes long. The half sessions I'm offering are 20 minutes. Booked every 25 minutes. They're being offered up at some of my favorite fall locations on different evenings throughout October. It's the only way I can figure out to accommodate the amount of families needing me this year. And not sure if there'll be any left for anyone not on the list but please contact us if you are interested.
Needless to say the list is no more. It's just become too much. From now on we will be using the newsletter approach. The day before we open up booking for the following month, we will send out a newsletter with booking information and all the details and promos for the month including minis and giveaways. This will be around the same time every month and will begin in late November or early December for January booking. And it will be like that always. Booking for the following month will be booked the month before.
Then, perhaps the biggest change is the way EVERYTHING is being booked. If you've booked with me in the past, you've probably been in contact with Tanya to schedule your session. Initial emails, back and forth with available sessions, need to knows about your session, reminders and then retainer invoices. All of which were done with Tanya sitting behind her screen doing that all manually. We are moving on up and have decided to book everything with my online scheduler. It's a program that we've used in the past for mini session bookings. We have all of my available dates in the calendar. Once you get the link, you will see indoor or outdoor option, you'll click on which you prefer... You will see only the sessions I'm offering at the current time and the dates and times I have open. We booked studio indoor for fall with this method and it's been incredible. You will need to pay a $50 retainer upon booking. This is saving Tanya an unbelievable amount of time and energy and freeing her up, too. When I'm busy, she's busy too. We are both overworked and it's not good for anyone.
Please don't think I'm complaining. Or bragging. It's the furthest thing from the truth. I desperately need you to understand that change is hard for me. It's unbearable at times. Especially when I receive backlash from you guys. Disappointed emails because of my new schedule. Or see snarky comments on posts about "how full of herself" I am because I write blogs like this explaining my reasoning. My only goal in this business is to make you happy. If you're not happy, then I've failed. I'm not bragging. I'm not doing anything but trying to explain to you that I'm maxed out... As a photographer, as a mom, as a wife. It's not fair to my family. So please understand, if there's no evenings in the studio, it's either because I'm sold out of them or there aren't any being offered up right now.
These decisions were not made lightly. I can promise you that. I believe it is what's best for my business and for myself which in turn trickles down to you guys. A happier me will be a happier you.
Phew. That was tough guys. Thank you for still being here and still reading! Enough of that hard stuff, let's talk about Christmas and the holidays!
Santa save the date is coming at you tomorrow night. Get ready for that. It will also include BOOKING DATE AND TIME. ****BOOKING IS NOT TOMORROW EVENING. THIS IS SIMPLY SAVE THE DATES AND MARK YOUR CALENDARS****
SESSIONS BEING OFFERED THIS SEASON:
-FALL OUTDOOR HALF SESSIONS-
~Monday, October 10th- Trexler Park
~Tuesday, October 18th- Lehigh Parkway
~Wednesday, October 26th- Kreidersville Covered Bridge
~Thursday, October 27th- Walnutport Canal
~Kemmerer's Tree Farm: October 15&16 (booking date will be announced soon)
~Studio Christmas mini sessions: late November (booking date and session dates will be released soon: weekday and evening appointments available)
~Santa's WORKSHOP & AWESOME SANTA sessions: dates being released Monday August 22 at 9pm.
I'm very excited about all that is happening this year and especially this fall. I'm excited to capture your family and children and to see you all once again. I hope you can embrace these changes and stick along for the ride.
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Thanks for reading this everyone. I love you all so much. Check back tomorrow for all things Santa!