Learning from experience, not from mistakes.

Learning valuable lessons often stems from personal experiences, and these experiences are not solely confined to mistakes or failures. Experiences, both positive and negative, offer opportunities for growth and development. Ultimately, the process of learning from experience is a dynamic and ongoing journey that enriches one's understanding of life. And in this case, my understanding of how I wanted to continue pursuing my passion for photography and being an entrepreneur. Read on to see three lessons I learned after starting my photography business just three years ago.

Buying in to too much, too soon.

I read it again and again. The advice from professional photographers that encouraged us newbies to not worry about getting the most expensive camera model out there, or the most intricate editing software. Just get out there and shoot! Get experience. Focus on what you're taking photos of and the composition details like your angles, lighting, and framing.

I will be the first to admit looking back, I fell in to the comparison trap early. When I saw everyone going mirrorless, even though I just got my beloved Canon Mark 5D Mark 4 DSLR, I jumped on the bandwagon and added the 5R to my camera arsenal. At a hefty price tag that cost my business revenue to plummet.

The camera is beautiful, and now that I've been doing this for nearly 3 years, it feels natural to me. But back then, it produced about the same quality photos as my DSLR.

I also bought ALL. THE. SOFTWARE. I accumulated ALL. THE. PRESETS. I booked ALL. THE. MENTORSHIPS. I thought I was equipping myself to be the best of the best. But what I wasn't doing was using my time and energy to just go out and do what I loved- to photograph beautiful stories of the people, places, and things I adored. I spent all my time and money getting buried in the glitter instead of creating with it.

Focusing on what the image looked like, instead of how it made us feel.

Scouring Instagram can be a bit overwhelming when it comes to seeing the MILLIONS of different styles of editing there are to adopt. And it seemed that everyone was fitting into an "editing family". I was very concerned on what "Hogwarts House" I would belong to with my editing style long before I knew how to successfully adjust my white balance.

I was immediately drawn to "dark and moody" editing. And I quickly adopted the mentality (and I admit this with some shame) that it didn't really matter what the picture looked like in the camera, because I could slap on presets and edit the CRAP out of every single image to bring it to life. The problem with this? It would take over 15 hours to edit a gallery of 20 photos.

Brush packs. Filters. Presets. My library was filled to the brim. And I maybe used 205 of it.. One week I loved the dusty, low contrast editing style. The next, I wanted to turn on my moody 2000's emo playlist and bring down ALL. THE. SHADOWS! I was so focused on the editing style that my images started to blur. I noticed that many lacked the basic fundamentals needed for a frame-worthy capture.

Looking back now, I know what's in the image is so much more important than the preset you apply to it. Capture the emotion of your client first. Bring out the beauty of their smiles and affection. Worry about editing later.

Not sharing more about who I was behind the brand.

I was (and still admittedly am) not the biggest fan of sharing my personal life on social media. Some things I like to keep to myself and don't want to broadcast. But trying to invite clients in to share their most sacred moments and cherished people with me, I HAD to reciprocate the willingness to get personal with them if there was any chance of them feeling calm, confident, and candid in our session.

I feel like I missed out on connections with some clients and potential opportunities to meet like-minded people in the industry because I was so against opening up..

I remember when I had a much-anticipated session with an athletic brand. I showed up and I eventually shared my background. I was a runner, new cyclist, and had a love for the outdoors. They were shocked that they never knew this about me! They even told me something like, "you just seemed like a nice person so we booked you".

Once they realized how many things we had in common, our conversations became deeper. Our communication became smoother. It was like getting to know me better made them realize they could express themselves whole-heartedly. And wow, did the session take off! To this day, that session is still one of my favorites. Not necessarily because the photos came out KILLER! But because the connections we made and the relationship we started were awe-spiring. All because I opened up about who I was and how we could connect as humans on a deeper level.

Learning these lessons took time.

I didn't realize in the moment that I needed some time away from the business to do some deep reflection. I didn't see all of this unfolding when it did. I was immersed in starting a new venture! I was busy trying to turn my passion into a profitable business. I was trying to learn and grow and act all at once. I didn't have much time to evaluate, and that's ok! That's what time and experience is for. I am grateful for it. I am thankful to be where I am today and starting my business back up again after a cross country move to a new state. New goals and new inspirations. And new lessons to be learned along the way.