This is my 100th blog. After almost three years of blogging, I’m taking a moment to reflect on where I started and how I got here. I want to inspire others, whether photographers, creative entrepreneurs, artists, or dreamers, to believe in themselves and pursue their passions without fear.
I remember sitting down to write that first blog. There were feelings of excitement and great hesitation. I had been running my business for six years while in college and then as I was teaching full time. Photography was always a second job and I absolutely loved it but I didn't have much time to devote to running the business, marketing, or advertising. I just had to shoot, edit, deliver, repeat. I received all of my business through referrals and never put myself out there.
Sitting down at my computer after a long day of teaching, to write my first blog, to say to the world "Hey I'm here, I am taking up space in this industry" was absolutely terrifying. What if no one ever read my blogs? Okay, no one besides my Mom. What if no one wanted to invest in my services after I advertised what I was offering? It took me almost 9 months from starting that draft to hitting publish.
There was an endless list of what-ifs and a small voice inside my heart that said "Do it. Be vulnerable. You're allowed to take up space here. Your work is valuable." I decided that I couldn’t let the fear of the what-ifs, the unknowns, or the potential failure stop me from pursuing my passion wholeheartedly.
I listened to that small voice and blog after blog I shared my work, my heart, my story, my passion. I've written about my personal life, travels, and advocated for what I believe. I've told the stories of wedding days, engagements, family moments, and lifestyle sessions. I've written advice for couples planning their wedding and education for other photographers. It doesn't matter whether I'm educating, inspiring, or storytelling, I love sharing my work, my photographs, and my words, through my blog.
Imagine if I didn't listen to that voice. Imagine if I was too scared to share my heart and work with the world. Friends, if you are standing on the edge of a vulnerable, scary decision, let me be that small voice to give you courage. You can do it. You deserve to be seen and heard. You are valuable and deserve to take up space, create, share your life, or live out your passion. Whatever it is, do it.
That first blog gave me the confidence to continue investing in myself and my business. There was a distinct moment in my business timeline, before I started blogging, which really was me just showing up in my business and the photography industry, and after I made the decision to be vulnerable and brave.
MY BUSINESS JOURNEY
I started my business back in 2012 with a camera my parents bought me for Christmas the year before and a kit lens. I had just graduated high school and I received my first check payment made out to Nicole Leanne Photography. I went to cash that check, but I couldn’t. I needed to open a business bank account, which meant that I needed to officially register my business. I remember vividly walking up to the business registration desk at Macomb County’s clerk office. I was excited but completely unsure of what it meant to run a business. And that’s how I officially started. There was no grand opening, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t celebrate at all.
I began photographing senior portraits, families, proms, and other events throughout college. To my photography, then verses now, check out this Instagram reel! Then in 2014, I started working in the wedding industry. I had the fortunate opportunity of assisting, second shooting, and associate shooting to learn the ins and out of wedding photography. I absolutely loved the excitement and significance of weddings, but never anticipated it becoming my career. In 2016, I graduated college and began teaching. I taught art, film and digital photography, and graphic design. It was the career I had always dreamed of.
Well, trying to balance documenting weddings, teaching full time, and managing my own photography business was overwhelming, to say the least. I took on fewer weddings so I had enough time, energy, and creativity to dedicate to my students and my couples. Then in 2018, with fewer weddings and less stress, I had more time to consider what I truly wanted to do. I realized that the reason I wasn’t advertising myself wasn’t that I didn’t have time for more work, which was true, but it was because I was afraid. I didn’t want to fail. I didn’t want to put myself out there and be rejected. I decided the best way to overcome that was to blog and launch my business social media accounts to share my work with others.
In my first blog, I wrote "Time has seemingly overlapped this past year as I have adjusted to full-time adulthood and managed the challenging balance between professional life and keeping my inner artist alive. However, as the end of the school year nears, my mind is again open to the endless possibilities of creativity. I have poured my heart and soul into my students this year, which I do not regret in any sense, but I am ready to begin documenting the world around me and uncovering its beauty and complexity."
The more I blogged, created, and documented, I soon realized that while God had given me the ability to teach, create, and help others, it didn’t have to be in a classroom. I could teach and mentor other photographers and my passion to help and create could be directed towards my couples. That realization gave me the freedom to evaluate my life. I quickly saw that I was burned out between teaching full-time and running my business full time. I wasn’t giving myself fully to either career and I definitely had nothing left to give when it came to family, friends, or even my own health. So last year, in 2020, I went full-time with my business. To read more about my story transitioning from teaching to photography, you can check it out here.
Today, my business is thriving. I am not saying that to give myself praise. I am saying that to tell you that one small decision led to another and gave me the confidence to make even larger and scarier decisions. I want you to know that you can do it too. You can be vulnerable and you don’t need to be afraid of failing. Failure isn’t the end, it’s just a redirection. You have value and you have something unique to share with the world. Also, know that I didn’t build my successful business alone. I had a lot of support from friends and family and still do. I invested in education, mentorships, and workshops to grow. I took risks and had help along the way. Still today, I’m a part of a weekly mastermind group where we work through business challenges together. I’m never doing this alone.
So, that’s the (condensed) story of where I started and how I got to where I am today. It’s been a journey and I know it will continue to change as my business grows. I am extremely grateful that I took a step toward pursuing my passion without fear, 99 blogs ago, and I hope you do the same too!
To follow along with my journey, you can follow me over on Instagram or follow my Facebook page! And if you’re jumping into a scary decision and want support, I’m here for you. Reach out and I’d love to encourage you throughout your journey!
All my love,
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