I am not often a person to make a big deal over any other person. I respect and admire a lot of photography industry greats, but there’s really only ONE photographer that leaves me “starstruck”…Jasmine Star. Although her images are completely amazing, that is not what I’m most inspired by when it comes to this incredible woman. It’s her story, her knowledge, her willingness to SHARE her knowledge, and her genuine personality.
I was lucky enough to be one of the 200 photographers that got to hang with Jasmine and absorb all the business goodness that she had to impart on us in Dallas TX last night. I have been learning from her for years, and every time I hear her speak I am insanely inspired (I’m talking–re-vamp-my-entire-business-practice-inspired!) and feel completely blessed to be listening to what she has to say.
Last night she touched on setting yourself apart in the industry and understanding that EVERY photographer is a photographer–we can all take pictures and we all have the same knowledge, generally speaking. But it’s ME–the photographer–that makes my services different from anyone else. The experience that I provide is like NONE OTHER–which can be both a good and a bad thing I suppose. But I pride myself on being myself with my clients. I goof off with them, I have fun with them, I make inappropriate jokes with them, I do stupid things to make them laugh in their images, and I am NOT necessarily professional with them. However, I think that is appreciated and that is why I have such a great relationship with my clients, and THAT is what is keeping them coming back. I am NOT the right photographer for everyone…but those who I am right for…I am PERFECT for, and they are PERFECT for me.
Jasmine encouraged all of us to make a list of our strengths and our weaknesses. Sounds like your typical self-help book, right? Completely obvious right? You’d think so. Honestly, though, it’s something I’ve given a passing thought to…but never REALLY deeply contemplated what it is I am best and worst at. I made my list last night, in my head, on the drive home. When I got home, I wrote it down. I was surprised to find that I emphatically knew my strengths. I’ve been doing this long enough and had enough honest client reviews to know where my strong suit is. I was able to take a look at over 30 anonymous online reviews of my boudoir sessions. Every.single.one.of.them talked extremely highly of their EXPERIENCE with me. How I made the session so comfortable with them and I was so goofy and easy going. NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THEM mentioned my images. NOT ONE. Does that mean that my images are my weakness?? MAYBE IT DOES! Or does it just mean that a boudoir session is SO much more than a pretty image to my typical client? Possibly. My photographs and my techniques are something that I will ALWAYS be working on, always be getting more education on, and hopefully will ALWAYS be improving. But I am proud that, early on, I’ve developed a sense of who I am with my clients and that I am aware that I want to be a service-oriented photographer. I am proud that my clients do NOT book me because they need a wedding photographer….rather they book me because they want ME to shoot their wedding. That number may be significantly smaller than the number of brides who just need to hire anybody to shoot their wedding, but that is what makes my clients extremely valuable to me. They want ME–and I want THEM–match.made.in.photography.heaven.
I took away a lot from last night’s workshop. I know now what my weaknesses are and am determined to work on them…but even more than that, I know that I will continue to be PROUD of my strengths and play them up!
While standing in line for the restroom before the workshop even began, Jasmine and JD snuck in the back entrance (right by the restroom) to grab a quick photo in front of a back-lit art piece in the venue. When she came around the corner I think I was the first one to see her…she was BEAMING with positive energy. I stole a big hug, and she and JD introduced themselves to me. I said…”umm…yeah I know who you are!” and laughed! So humble. So modest. So awesome. She is just the kind of person that you want to be around…will instantly put you in a great mood and inspire you. She was genuinely EXCITED to be there and happy to share with us.
When I talked to her later and had my photo taken with her…I knew she had been bombarded with 200 people who had been thanking her, telling her what an inspiration she was, asking for their photos with her, etc. In my mind, I’m thinking “oh this poor girl hearing the same thing over and over! I won’t bother her with my gushing!” When I finally did approach her for a quick picture, I said “I know you’re hearing the SAME things from every single person and I know you have a lot of people to talk to! So I’ll keep this short–you’re awesome, and I love ya girl!” She stopped dead in her tracks and grabbed my arm and looked me in my eye and said “THANK YOU for being here”. To which I replied “THANK YOU for being here.” and she got very serious for a moment and said “No, seriously. Thank you.” and she meant it! You could see the passion there. She is not just a brand…the brand is her. I think everyone could learn something from her. Truly.
So in efforts to keep this from being strictly a Jasmine gush fest (can you tell I’m a fan yet?), I will also tell you that I am happy that I walked away with a couple of new photographer friends! The Austin photogs took over the front row–had to represent! I really didn’t have as much time to meet everyone as I wanted to, but the people that I DID meet, I’m so glad that I did. It’s good to know there are so many others out there that are dealing with the same obstacles and FRUSTRATIONS (<—that’s for you, Sabrina!) that I am.
I am thrilled to take my new-found knowledge and motivation and apply it to my day-to-day business practices!
A BIG HUGE thank you to Jasmine, JD, David Jay, Andrew Barlow, and the whole team behind theFIX for a totally-worth-the-long-drive-workshop last night!