I love keeping stats on my photography business as a way to track progress and changes from year to year. It's pretty amazing to see the dramatic change that New York City has had on my business over the last year (all photos in this blog post are from my personal instagram feed)...
Business 2014 in New York City:
300+ Properties Photographed with a 95% 24hr turn-around
6 Headshots & Family Portraits
5 Photography Consulting Clients
3 Weddings as Second Photographer
2 General Events Photographed
1 Six Month Intern Mentoring
1 Podcast Interview
Compared to what my business looked like in 2013 between Lowell, MA & NYC:
84 Headshots & Family Portraits
20 General Events Photographed
3 Weddings as Primary Photographer
5 Weddings as Second Photographer
5 Properties Photographed
3 Photography Consulting Clients
1 Professional Photography Presentation
When I started this year, I had no idea I'd spend the majority of my year shooting Interiors & Architecture almost exclusively. In fact, even into May, I was still planning for additional marketing toward weddings & events. It became more clear as I was mentoring this year's intern that all of my wedding & portrait experience from the last 10 years was going to be more useful to him than it was going to be for me. It was only when I took full stock of what was actually happening the first half of the year when I shared my Evolution as a Professional Photographer, that I really decided to fully embrace Interiors & Architecture as a serious market to dedicate my time and attention to, even though I'd already been filling my shooting time with interior work since mid-January.
Interiors & Architecture gave me a renewed passion and desire for learning more in my craft. I was putting in so much study during my free-time toward things like lighting small and large spaces, composing space, and other interior techniques that I even found myself photographing interiors in my dreams! Once I made the mental switch to fully embrace interiors and architecture as my direction in NYC, things started happening that I never could have imagined- like getting to work with major companies on large architectural projects and working with fabulous interior designers who create luxury homes. The best part was that I could actually walk or take public transportation to almost all of the shoots, so I also got the side benefit of getting in as much exercise as if I'd spent an hour at the gym every day! I nailed down a solid 24hr turn-around workflow and found a price point that allowed me to serve quickly with great quality. There was a little part of me that craved people work after shooting so many interiors, so I'm glad I still had some portraits and weddings to get me back to thinking on my toes with pure emotion from time to time.
What's even more amazing is that almost all of the interior & architecture work I did this year came without having a dedicated website portfolio of my work. I made a bold move in May to completely eliminate my website portfolio and put up a one page site asking to be contacted to view more work. I'd been in desperate need of a website update and rather than live with an outdated site any longer, I simply removed it until I could dedicate time to an update. That means I ran my business almost entirely by word of mouth, without a website portfolio, for a completely different market and niche than I'd served before, in what I'd consider to be the most competitive photography market in the world... in one year of living here. *drops the mic*
Hell yes, I'm proud of myself and what I've been able to accomplish. As the saying goes, "If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere." But the truth is, I've already made it everywhere else. :-) That may sound bold, but if you've been following my journey, you know how much I've been through and how many times I've had to change gears mid-cruise. Eventually I'll get my new portfolio online, but as you can see, I haven't had much incentive since things have been pretty good without it. Not having too much SEO and website presence also helps keep down the random inquiries and allows me to focus more fully on pre-qualified clients who already know they want to work with me. It's allowed me to spend a lot more time shooting and serving clients who need me and a lot less time behind the computer writing proposals for clients who aren't sure. There's definitely a chance I've been I've been sacrificing big complex projects in favor of more small and easy ones, but I just want to create great work that helps people be seen in their best light, and that's what I've been able to focus on this year more than any other.
This year I also decided not to offer any workshops or webinars and only help consulting clients one-on-one who came by referral. So far, it looks like everyone I got to work with has done pretty awesomely over this last year. It's amazing what a little bit of business organization and mentoring can do toward creating confidence for a creative to go bigger and bolder in their business. It's something I always wished I'd had when I was starting out, but I had to learn most of it the hard way. I guess that's what helps me make it easier for other people.
Beyond the business, life is only good if I'm also able to have the time and space to enjoy family, friends, and travel. This year didn't disappoint in that realm either as I was able to take plenty of time off, including most of my weekends. I enjoyed spending a lot of extended time with family and friends, whether it was away or here in NYC. Some of the travel listed below was combined with work, but was done in such a way that it could be well-balanced between time dedicated to working and time just spent relaxing. This truly was a wonderful year in so many realms of my life, and I have to be grateful and acknowledge when life feels so abundant and joyful. It's not always this amazing, but when it is, it's awesome.
Personal Stats 2014:
10 Weeks Off for Vacations
11 New Cities Visited: Santiago, Chile; Curitiba, Brazil; Porto Allegre, Brazil; Fire Island, NY; Hamptons, NY; Ocean City, NJ; Atlantic City, NJ; New Hope, PA; Philadelphia, PA; Shackleford Banks, NC; Siesta Key, FL;
11 Family Members came to visit NYC
Each year of working in my best flow makes it more and more difficult to set goals for the year ahead. When I'm in a place of so much joy and gratitude for how everything already is, it's hard to want anything more or less than what I already have! I look back at my flickr feed from 2014 and everything seems so surreal, but it all really happened: Horseback riding in the Andes, VIP dining at the James Beard Awards, Photographing wild Horses on Islands of North Carolina, Looking at the water from Pablo Neruda's home, Chatting with Mike Myers about his new film... and that doesn't even scratch the surface. The best things that happened to me this year were all in collaboration with, or a direct result of other people and their generosity of spirit or time and I'm endlessly grateful to them and their efforts in making so many great things happen. I seriously do not know how I got so lucky this year. I only hope I can pay it forward. :-)
Likewise, if you would have told me in January that I'd photograph 300 interiors by the end of the year, while still taking over two months off and doing everything I've done this year, I would have laughed at you and said it was humanly impossible. So, I may just keep leaving this goal-setting stuff up to the universe, because I obviously have no idea what I'm actually capable of. If I could leave you with one parting thought, it would be to anchor yourself in the possibilities of abundance beyond financial gain or material acquisition, because there are so many more riches to be experienced in this world...