Something that I have believed in since I started this adventure was the power of community over competition. When I first started my business in 2012, it was hard. I didn’t know anyone in the wedding industry, and back then, things were very hush-hush. No one wanted to branch out of their comfort zone, and you had photographers who had been doing things for 5-15 years- the same things…for 5-15 years. The ones that had made it past that dreaded 10 year mark when most fail had shut out anyone “new’. They didn’t want the industry to become saturated, but what they ended up doing was creating a new community. One that believed in the power of helping each other instead of shutting others out. THIS I was here for.
I learned about this new group call the Rising Tide Society, and believed in everything it stood for. Caring, passion, helping, service, and Community over competition. The closest chapter was in Wenatchee, but I still joined that group, even though they were an hour and half away from me. I never made it to meetings, but still was active online and was grateful for the help I got there. A year later, I got word that my girl Alex of Alex Lasota Photography was starting a group closer to me in Tri-cities. I was stoked for her, and stoked for our area. Over the next year, I ended up joining her as the co-leader, and we had SO many great chats with other amazing vendors in our area. We made SO many new vendor friends, and helped build this amazing community. BUT….It was time consuming. It was all volunteer work, and both of us had businesses to run, families to spend time with, and the pressure of trying to keep everyone happy in the group (for me) got to be too much. I stepped down from the leader position, and later she did as well, but that didn’t stop those relationships that we had built with other vendors. I’ll refer to them as friendors now.
Over the last 7 years in business, I’ve learned a ton. I’ve learned how to use my camera extremely well. I’ve learned how to edit extremely efficient. I’ve streamlined my work-flows, and have started running a business and not having it run me. But another thing I’ve done is fostered these relationships that I built from the start. But what does that even mean?
I spend time with these people! I follow them online and comment and support their work. We help each other. We vent to each other. We meet up IN REAL LIFE and talk about crazy-slow booking seasons (lookin’ at you 2019). We send each other referrals…I think you see where i’m going here. I’m grateful for these friends, and it was even more apparent how important these relationships were this weekend. On Saturday, I got an Instagram DM from a friend whose other photographer friend was looking for a replacement for herself. She had started puking at 5 AM and knew there was NO way she’d be able to photograph this wedding she had been planning on photographing for months. I instantly felt sympathy for her, and (as I was sitting on the couch in my PJ’s with nothing planned) knew I could help.
She called me, we talked for probably a minute and I told her I’d be happy to help. I feel like I need to add that I DID NOT do this for free. I still value my time. Boy, do I. Yesterday was the only day that I hadn’t worked this week, and I had planned to spend a good junk of it being lazy with my kiddos, but with two hours notice, I knew I had to help. It really wasn’t about the money, though when you get a 8-5 job you start to be that much more appreciative of money coming in than when you just work for yourself. My hope is that karma will come back, and if I ever get into a similar situation, someone will be an angel and return the favor. It felt good to serve my friend, and also her clients. I helped ease her stress, and her clients stress during the day, and I’m grateful to get the chance to serve them! I know that when I’m serving others, I’m just a happier person in general.
I’m grateful for my “tribe” of cheerleaders and fellow entrepreneurs that are true believers of community over competition, and I’ll continue to serve and help not only my clients, but my friendors too! 🙂