September 18, 2019
I am taking my blog in a personal development direction today! I’ll be chatting with you about my experience with my wonderful mentor Marissa Morrison of Monsoleil Weddings, based out of Louisiana. We met over Facebook a year ago, and that is a fun story for another day! And through this past year of working together, I have learned and grown in tangible ways, both as a person and in my business. Below I will discuss the merits of photography mentorship as I reflect on my journey this past year!
The best thing about photography is the creative aspect. It’s something I needed as a person and also as a new momma to two boys. I’ve always had a foot in the creative world and the new non-creative “empty space” was something I found difficult, despite the immense joy of motherhood. But in that creative space, I had some gaps in my foundation that mentorship helped me address. Through focusing on composition and the use of light, my work began to take on a stronger, more professional feel. Composition and the use of light in photography are two cornerstones and must be mastered to go the distance in the business of photography (IMHO). So step one for me working with Marissa was solidifying my foundation.
I was well on my way to a downward spiral to burn-out before Marissa and I had connected. Last time I checked, I had booked as many as 27 weddings in a year in addition to running a household, not to mention special needs or health challenges. I came to a place where my computer could not function with all the data and it screamed back at me, “DIGITAL CONSTIPATION!” At that intersection, I hit a wall. I could try to do things the way I had been doing them and stay stuck in the same routines or I could make a change. Feeling stuck but also ready to surrender, I said, “Jesus take the wheel… and my camera, if you have to!” Surrendering my dream and trusting the process was not easy, and despite feeling stuck in the patterns I created for myself, I knew I wasn’t alone. That day, I sent a heartfelt message to Marissa and she helped me walk through that crazy season in my business. Had I not had a compassionate, professional mentor, I’m not sure I would still be in business today!
Mentors have the fortunate vantage point of seeing things that we can’t see. (Have you seen the movie Blind Side?) I have a tendency to get myopic – meaning focusing on a small detail, like those dreaded Profit and Loss sheets, while not seeing the big picture. Working with a mentor helped me see the bigger picture and helped bring me back to the reality of “Hey girl! Remember you are reaching your goals!” And it’s true! I am now booking weddings in the price range that I have set for myself, and I have more time for my family and health goals. Also, through deep reflection and conversation with my mentor, I have been able to realize my strengths and my passion have a special place in my business. Through gentle encouragement, I’ve made many steps towards defining exactly what my mission is in my business and I couldn’t be more excited for what lies ahead. (*Thanks Marissa for believing in me and my “green” niche!)
Even though Monsoleil Weddings is based in Louisiana, I don’t feel the slightest bit disconnected. We have weekly chats, FB interaction, and even face to face opportunities to link! Twice I’ve been able to shadow Marissa on projects. Learning by observation and reflection is very powerful. My instinct may be to help and serve, but it’s also affirming to see the content that you’ve studied come together through demonstration. Marissa’s joy working with people and confidence behind the camera is a blessing to absorb. While I’m still growing as a wedding photographer, I know that I am on the right track as I learn by my mentor’s example.
There is no way that I would be where I am today without the help of photography mentorship. I’m all in favor of online courses! Those are GREAT (*I LOVE THEM), and they have their place. But nothing can replace the one on one aspect of sharing part of your life and business goals together. I’ve found encouragement when I felt discouraged, built a solid foundation, found support in my dreams and strengths, found help with my blind spots, and found the momentum to keep moving forward. No matter where you are on your journey, thankfully there is someone a step ahead of you. Many business professionals have the gift of developing others; the reality is – giving of this gift does take one’s time. That is why mentors charge for their time and experience. But I have to add this encouragement. The best investment I’ve made in my business is not my equipment or studio, is not going to wedding fairs, and is not buying courses devoid of personal mentorship (as good as they are); rather, the best investment I’ve made is mentorship.
I just wanted to conclude here saying in case someone is wondering, I was not asked to write this blog post. I have a gift of developing others and so when I see that gift in someone else, I recognize it and appreciate it. My hope is that what I have shared is an encouragement to others who might feel discouraged in their business. Please don’t feel afraid to reach out for help. You won’t regret it! And many thanks to Marissa for being YOU! Thanks for nurturing so many of us in a sincere desire to see us grow! You are such a blessing and I hope that you know that!
For my latest wedding post, check out this Georgetown DC wedding blog!