by Kelli France | Editor-in-Chief
Are you going CRAY-CRAY trying to work from home this summer?
Join me for a Free 5-Day SUMMER SANITY BootCamp Facebook Group starting July 14-18.
I’ll be sharing nuggets of wisdom I have learned from working from home for 12 years with 4 kids.
Then, on Fri July 18th at 1 pm Central (aka naptime!) I’ll be sharing even more during a LIVE webinar
Guest Contributor | Abbey Kyhl
Today we are featuring an article from our Celebrity Photography, Abbey Kyhl, that you won’t want to miss! I think we have all been here before! See how Abbey deals with balancing work and family and don’t forget to sign up to get your WEBSITE critiqued by Abbey this August.
Look at these three…how could anyone ever say “no” to them? They are so adorable, so loving, and so simply wonderful to be around. And they are hungry for my time and attention. They can’t get enough of me. Along with their wonderful daddy, there is no one in the world they would rather spend their time with. They want to play Legos with me, they want to read stories with me, they want me to rock them in my arms, and they want to spend their every waking minute right by my side.
But there was a point in time when I did say “no” to them. All the time in fact. “Not right now. In a minute. Hold on” were words that came out of my mouth dozens of times during the day. And then there for a minute, they started to lose faith in me, and it wasn’t me that they wanted to be around anymore…
When my oldest was about 5 years old he took a little hip hop class that had two recitals in the year. Because his first recital wasn’t scheduled months in advance like my weddings were, I missed it. Daddy was there, my assistant was there, but mommy was working. So for his next recital I made huge efforts to make sure I could be there. I wasn’t going to miss this one. But I never told him that, he was five, he wouldn’t understand how much effort I put into being there for him. So one afternoon I could hear him chatting with my assistant in the other room while I was busy emailing, editing, blogging, posting on social media and doing more work than I knew how to handle. I heard him say to her, “Will you come see me dance hip hop?” She, of course, said she would. But then the next thing that came out of his mouth were the most painful words I have ever heard in my life…”Oh good, because my mommy won’t be there. She will be working.”
My heart sank. My five year old had lost faith in me to show up for him. To be there for him. He was so desperate to be with me, even when it meant him sitting on the floor next to me playing puzzles while I worked, but I wasn’t putting that same energy into being there for him. Something had to change…
In fact, just about everything needed to change. I get asked all the time by photographers that I work with how I manage it all. How do I have a successful business and still have time for my family? How do I take off as much time as I do and still keep busy and profitable? How do I get things done without working every minute of the day? Along with figuring out a really great workflow and system for managing my time (but that’s another blog post…in fact its the basis of my whole workshop), one of the biggest contributing factors is simple…I learned to say “No.”
This concept, this idea of saying “no” to clients was one of the biggest stepping stones to taking back my life and in turn taking my business to a whole new level. Think about all the strangers you are saying “yes” to in your business. People you don’t know. People who aren’t loyal to you. But you say “yes” to because of the fear of what would happen if you said “no”, even though you know you should.
When I first started my business, and many of us do this, we say “yes” to everyone. Yes, to sessions we know aren’t our style. Yes, to sessions we know we don’t have time to do. Yes, to clients we know aren’t a good fit for us. Yes, to prices that we know aren’t making us any money. Yes, yes, yes…I think because we are afraid that if we say “no” to anyone, those clients will tell their friends, and pretty soon we will have no business. So we say “no” to our families, a lot. But I can honestly tell you, when you start to say “yes” to the right things and “no” to the wrong things, you will find you have more business than you know what to do with. But then you gain the power to create the type of business you dreamed of.
And here is the crazy part, the part I will get up and pour out my heart and soul out to you for as long as you would listen. When you put your family first, when you say “yes” to them first, your business becomes something so amazing. More than you could ever dream it could be. I don’t say “yes” to every person that contacts me anymore, because I say “yes” to my family first, and they need and want me a lot. I schedule my time with them first. I am not available ever hour of the day anymore. I no longer come back from vacations a day early or cancel them completely for a client.
But the clients I do say “yes” to I say it 110%. I don’t commit to everyone, so those that I do commit to I can give more time and attention and create a great relationship with them. I can be available to them the way they need me to be as well. Brides now become friends. And friends value your family. They understand how important t-ball games and basketball practices are. They understand how important taking a summer break with your kids is, because there are so few of those in a lifetime. They want you to be able to be a good mom. They support you in that. And so they are willing to be flexible, because they know that when you are giving them your time, you are giving them your very best. And they understand how much I care about them as well, how much I want for everything about their photos to be amazing, and that now because I have the time to be an amazing mom, I also have the time, energy, and heart to do everything I can to make sure that what I am giving to them is just as wonderful. So yes, there are still days when I have to be away from my family, and I can’t always be with them. But those days are not as big of a deal anymore. Because I am here. I am here for them when they need me, and many times when they don’t, just sitting her quietly wanting them grow and falling in love with them even more. So I can have the best of both worlds. Being a great mom and being a great business owner.
I tell my workshop students this a lot…When you say “yes” to things you know you shouldn’t…you are saying “no” to the most important things in your life. And look at these three, how could you ever say “no” to them? I know I can’t. And now because I’m as committed to them, as I am to all my wonderful brides and clients, everything is working out pretty splendidly…better than splendid in fact. Its better than I could have ever dreamed…
…until next time…I have a baby who needs snuggling.
Sign up to get your WEBSITE critiqued by Abbey this August.
Chic Critique is excited to welcome Celebrity Photographer, Abbey Kyhl with AK Studio & Design. Abbey’s style can be described as a combination of fine art portraiture and photojournalism. She loves images that are simple, sweet and lovely. You can see some of her work on Green Wedding Shoes, the Ruffled Blog, Every Last Detail, Southern Utah Bride Magazine, and dozens of other publications.
After seven years of running a busy portrait and wedding photography business, Abbey has decided to move her business in a new direction focusing solely on wedding photography and helping educate growing photographers.
Aside from learning how to take a beautiful photograph, there are so many other aspects of running a successful business that photographers need to master. Abbey is excited to share her knowledge on how she came up with a perfect pricing structure for her, how she manages all of her blogging and social media marketing, the in-depth session prep system she has created to put together perfectly planned sessions, and so much more!
Abbey has also created The AK Crew, a facebook group, where each day she answers one question about anything. From business to marketing, to posing to editing, and everything in between. You can check it out at www.theakcrew.com.
It’s one thing to be a talented photographer and it’s a completely different thing to be a successful business owner. Abbey is excited to be able to help you master both!
Why do you think honest critique on your images is important?
We are all so emotionally attached to our work. We love it and pour our heart into it. And sometimes that love keeps us from seeing the room for improvement. By having someone give us an honest opinion on what we can improve, and the guidance and direction we are needing, we can only continue to grow and improve.
Do you edit mostly in Photoshop or Lightroom?
I do about 80% of my editing in Lightroom, and then have created some custom actions in Photoshop that I run on all my images to finish them up. Each and every one of my images is edited with the exact same steps to give them that consistent look.
What camera do you use? Favorite lens?
I am a Canon girl all the way! Right now I am shooting with a Canon 5D Mark II and I love my 85mm 1.4. But I find that I like to use a lot of lenses. I have the 50mm, 70-200mm, and the 17-55mm that I frequently use.
What has been the most helpful critique you ever got on an image?
I don’t know that it was necessarily on one image, but I went to a workshop once and they said that you need to develop a style and stick to it. I think as photographers we see so many different styles that we love and want to try them all out. But for your business, and to maintain your brand, it is so important to develop your style and make sure that style and brand shines through in every image.
What 3 words would you use to describe your style?
Genuine. Enduring. Lovely. I want an image that will stand the test of time. And that is beautiful today, but will still be beautiful down the road.
Where do you pull your inspiration from?
Everywhere! I love looking at old black and white photography…even though I love to showcase my images in color. I love the emotion that can be found in them. I find that my biggest inspiration is anything that has an emotional value to it. So whether it is something I see in real life, on a movie screen, in another photographers work, or a magazine, the one thing I am always looking for is something that moves me.
What is one specific way that you balance work and family?
Mom Hours! These are such an important element to my life. Because I work at home the majority of the time it is easy to get caught working all day long. But by designating my “mom hours” as time that I don’t do anything but family stuff it has definitely helped us maintain that balance.
Best biz/photo advice?
Be a boss! If you had any other 9-5 job you wouldn’t spend 80 hours a week working and making the same pay. By taking control of your business and treating it as that, a business, you are able to develop a more clear perspective and streamline and organize your time and systems in a way that will pay off big for your business and your family.
What have you learned the hard way?
The consequences of not learning to say “no.” Early in my business my friends would call me the “photography floozy” because I would take photos anytime, anywhere, for just about any price. And it took me a long time to realize that when you don’t learn to balance your time, everyone suffers.
Your family suffers because you are stressed out, ornery and gone all the time. The clients who booked you first suffer because you aren’t able to give them the time and effort that they are paying for. And all the people you should say no to but don’t suffer too because they don’t get you at your best either.
By learning to set boundaries and not take on more than you can enjoyably handle, you are doing a better job for everyone!
I feel like I try to stay somewhat oblivious to other photographers around me and focus on my brand and my clients. It is easy to let all your time waste away worrying and stressing about what your competitors are doing. So I try to spend my time developing my own brand and bettering the way I do things.Another thing I have spent SO MUCH TIME developing is everything I do behind the scenes. I think there are a lot of people out there who can take a beautiful photograph, but don’t run a successful business. I have spent hours and hours developing systems and way of doing things to streamline my process, I also spend an insane amount of time with my clients in session prep (which they love!). I feel like being invested every step of the way is something that has really set me apart from photographers in my area.
My main form of marketing, and where the majority of my clients come from is from social media. But I have to say that I rely heavily on the referrals and help of my brides. By doing my best for them, they in turn do what they can to help me find other brides. One of the best things I ever figured out in my business was the concept of Ideal Clients, by knowing this and knowing how to reach them I am able to attract brides who are a perfect fit that make my job so incredibly wonderful!
Nichole Van…hands down! She is amazing! I am kind of a workshop junkie and have been to a lot of them in the past, but she is so well prepared and knows her stuff so thoroughly that you walk away so pumped about your photography and with amazing information to help you continue to improve. This is such a great workshop if you are just getting started and if you are really looking to take that next step and invest in yourself and your business she is an amazing place to start!