Indianapolis Family Photographer | For Photographers Fridays: Specialize In…

Indianapolis Family Photographer | For Photographers

I’ve been wanting to do this for a while now, but have only managed to do it sporadically with posts about retainers, balances, wedding welcome kits (which need some serious updating), watermarks, and a few other things. So as of today, I’m officially starting a ‘For Photographers Fridays’ blog posting: once a week, about topics pertaining to the personal and professional aspects of this business journey. I want to share what I’ve learned, answer questions you may have, and ultimately document this as I go… for my own recollection, as well as the support of others embarking on a similar journey! Some it will be technical, or like today, some of it will be more personal.

Indianapolis Wedding Photographer | casey and her camera

I’m going to focus specifically on weddings here for a moment, because, if you didn’t know (and probably didn’t), up until the fall of 2014 I thought I was going to move in the direction of becoming primarily a wedding photographer.

I didn’t come to this conclusion because I love photographing weddings, though, … and I do, but I actually came here because I love photographing couples. My stream of consciousness: couples = engagements, engagements = weddings. So in July of this year, when I found out we were relocating and my dream of transitioning into full-time-photography was going to become a reality much sooner than expected, I quickly chose a specialization so that I could begin marketing my new area in the most efficient way possible.

I reworked all of my marketing, SEO, and fit my ‘public image’ to match my target crowd. And it worked… slowly, but it worked. I arrived here in Indianapolis and had quite a few wedding inquiries, consultations, and bookings. I shot another couple of weddings on my own roster, and supported as a second shooter for some other teams.

And then I realized… I don’t want to be a full-time wedding photographer.

Now stick with me, here. I actually LOVE weddings. Seriously – cannot keep a dry eye behind the cloak of my camera. I grin from ear to ear, love the hustle and bustle, feel like I get an awesome workout, and if you’ve ever worked with me before in a non-photography setting, you will know I like my plate REALLY full (I prefer two full plates, actually), work well under pressure and tight deadlines, and thrive in a chaotically productive environment. I.E. weddings.

Indianapolis Wedding Photographer | casey and her camera

But then there’s the wedding aftermath. If you’re a wedding photographer, you know what I’m talking about. It’s like having the most intense non-alcohol-induced hangover of your life. Oh wait, it’s like you worked out for 10-12 hours without stopping to eat or drink or…. yeah.

And weddings are equally hard on your equipment.

Side tangent: If you’re not a photographer and you wonder why wedding photographers are so expensive, it’s a complicated answer, but equipment is one of the reasons. You need more of it to shoot weddings, higher quality, and you have to upgrade/replace it more quickly than when shooting portrait sessions. Did you know that digital cameras count actuations? Just like a car has a built in odometer that measures the wear-and-tear in miles on your car, our cameras have a built in actuations count that count the wear-and-tear in shutter actuations on our cameras. And like a car, your camera only has so many ‘miles’ until you have to replace it. Naturally, weddings increase the miles on your camera MUCH more quickly than other shoots. 

None of this is actually why I decided I don’t want to primarily be a wedding photographer. I can handle the mileage on my body and my camera, I can handle all of it, but what I can’t handle is the schedule.

Yep… for me, it’s that simple.

You see, I’ve spent most of my working years (and it’s been half of my life so far) working on weekends. It really is that selfish. I’ve worked retail (weekends), teaching (grading and planning and prepping on weekends), coaching (weekend games), weekend camp facilitator (that one’s a given), ranch manager (on call on nights and weekends… and 24/7). I haven’t had a weekend (like what America believes a weekend should be) since I was about 13 years old…. until this year.

As of January 2015, I have officially had a weekend. And it’s amazing. We work on the house, go hiking in the park, run our errands, and so on. I have time to spend with my husband (who also doesn’t work on weekends) and I am relearning what it means to relax.

And crazy as it may sound, this is a big part of why I have chosen not to specialize in weddings. Staying in this business long-term means finding balance and mapping out a plan that won’t cause burnout. And for me, this means limiting weddings.

Ah-hah! See what I did there? I’m not eliminating them. Not yet. I just like them too much to cold-turkey them. Maybe one day, if we have a family of our own, I will retire from weddings, but in the mean time, I have decided to take on a limited number of weddings each year, with a balanced calendar so that I am not working every weekend in a month.

Now I realize that working in photography means working on the weekends, but going to a family shoot for a couple of hours is much different than going to a wedding for an entire day. It’s all about balance, folks.

Now if I could just convince my husband to become my second shooter, then maybe we could shoot more weddings…. 😉

Have you noticed that, though? A lot of full-time wedding photographers who do really well in the industry professionally AND personally are a team with their spouse. Jasmine Star, Katelyn James, Zach and Jody, Amy and Jordan, the list goes on. It’s one of the smartest ways to find and keep family balance in the industry.

Indianapolis Family Photographer | casey and her camera

Something else happened for me when I got to Indianapolis. After booking and working a couple of weddings, I had a full fall of family shoots and I realized I LOVELOVELOVE family shoots. It makes sense, right? I’ve always liked kids, I’ve always worked with kids (with my education background), so it would naturally make sense that this would be what fuels my passion. I just wasn’t able to come to that conclusion from mental reasoning. I had to get out there and work with more families.

It just happened one evening… I’m not even sure which evening. I always call home on my way home from a shoot because I’m totally high on the energy, the light and the people, and the shots on the back of my camera. I call my husband and rave to him about this shot or that shot, or the family themselves… I’m always on cloud 9. It was during one of these calls this past fall that I realized that THIS is what I want to specialize in; that I am a family photographer.

As photographers, we’re told to choose one (yes, ONE) area that we can specialize in and focus on. It makes us more marketable, in the long run, because we become the expert. But ask my mom… I’ve never been able to focus on just one thing. I’ve always had multiple projects, interests, and hobbies. I’m a natural multitasker. So I’m not following the rules. I’m choosing family and couple, lifestyle and senior photography. Not to mention a bit of wedding and photo booth photography.

Maybe in the future this will change, but for now I get to make the rules and do what I love, and in turn…  I LOVE what I do.

casey and her camera specializes in family, couple, lifestyle, senior, and wedding photography in Indianapolis, Indiana and surrounding areas.

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