You read that correctly.
There was a time when I lost ALL of my photography clients in one day.
I think you should, too.
Hear me out…
If you’re a photographer, then you know the feeling:
You have a list of repeat clients who use you for everything. And one day, they just don’t. One day you see them post another photo that you clearly didn’t take. You see them crediting another photographer that you know is definitely not you. You see all the likes and the hearts on that new profile picture or that instagram post and your heart sinks, because you instantly, above anything else, think “they didn’t choose me” or “what did I do?”.
Or maybe the situation is slightly different. Maybe a new client has chosen you to document a piece of life for them. When all is said and done, they instantly rave about you. You get the five-star rating on facebook, you see them changing their cover photos and profile pictures to examples of your work, they’re bragging about how amazing and patient and dedicated and talented and artistic and sweet you are and how they’ll definitely be back, but then…. they’re not. And, once again, you find yourself taking it personally and blaming yourself.
OR. Maybe a client has used you for various events previously. Maybe you’ve documented different situations in the past, and they’ve also chosen other photographers to do the same thing. But then they’ve come back to you later on. And then they’ve left to choose someone else. And then they came back. Then they left again to use someone else. But then they came back to you. And you can’t help but think “why only sometimes?” “why not every time?” “why leave and come back?” “Could I not photograph that life event as well as the photographer you chose?” “Did you not trust me to photograph that particular part in your life?” “Is that photographer better at photographing the same event than I am?”
Anyone? Anyone? Can I get an “Amen” or a “preach”?! For real.
It’s enough to make you [ a b s o l u t e l y | C R A Z Y ]. So why do we do it to ourselves?
That used to be me. That still IS me. But with talking it out with other professionals and those close to me, to constantly humble and ground me, it’s getting easier. And it’s also how I ended up losing all of my photography clients, which has been the absolute best thing for me.
You’re probably still really confused, so let me explain.
- I had to stop looking at clients as my clients. They’re not mine. I don’t own them. They’re not bound to me in any way. They’re not physically forced to use me for their photographic needs. And once I truly REALIZED that, I was on the road to accepting myself a little easier. I needed to change the way I thought about the people coming to me for photography (and the ones who were choosing not to).
- I had to stop following everyone. EVERYONE. On social media. It was nothing personal. It was just way healthier for me and made me way happier to not constantly compare myself to literally everyone else, especially photographers.
- I had to not care what everyone else was doing. Sure, I love looking at other people’s work and being inspired, but there comes a time when it’s just too much. When I started focusing on ME and MY business and MY work, I became so much happier and at peace.
- I HAD TO STOP TAKING THINGS SO PERSONALLY. Seriously. Who cares?!
- I had to TRULY appreciate those who were coming to me, even for one time only. I was thankful for them, even in that one, brief moment of time. They chose me, when they didn’t have to. I was able to create something for them. And if it was the ONLY time I’d get to do it, I had to accept that and still be thankful for it.
And that’s how I lost every single “client”. I changed the way I spoke of people, maybe changing “they’re my clients” to “I’ve photographed [for] them before” I’m not saying it’s in any way easy. I’m not saying I have it 100% mastered. But I do know it’s who and where I want to be.
If you find yourself in the same nauseating, rocky boat, I WILL say that focusing on YOU and your OWN thing will make you so so so so much happier. Seriously. Remember why you started. It sounds so cliche, but it’s the realest line out there. You were inspired or motivated by someone else long ago… maybe a class you took, or someone you looked up to. Don’t ever let go of that. You need to stay true to yourself, to your craft, and to your own happiness, which is self-made.
Another thing, NO ONE ELSE IS YOU. Also cliche, and something we can thank Dr. Seuss for. But another real statement! No one has your eye, your vision, your approach, your style, your editing, your personality… I could go on. People will see ALL of that and more, and they’ll love you. And THEY’RE the ones you should put your energy towards. If you’re too focused on the ones not using your services or going elsewhere, you’re missing out on what you DO have!
So get out there, do yo thang, lose all of your clients… and be happy. ❤