Meredith Ryncarz-Only a Second Shooter

Imagine walking into a wedding industry event and leaving more deflated than when you got there, feeling more angry and frustrated with your career choices than ever before.  That’s how I felt walking out of a workshop last year.  I had asked a simple question and one that I thought a leader in the wedding industry might know.  After all this is a heavily saturated military town with several veterans and military spouses attending that day.  I didn’t get the answer I wanted that day, but I got the answer I needed to fire me up just enough to make a change.

I asked the speaker what I as a military spouse could do to effectively move my business every three years.  His response felt like a slap in the face.  He said “This is the life you chose and you can get out at any time.  You decided to marry a military man.  If you want to be successful then make the choice to leave the military life, otherwise, just be happy being a decent second shooter for someone else when you move.”

This wasn’t the first time I had heard this line of reasoning coming from an industry pro but it was the harshest and most blunt version of it.  I left feeling angry and hurt, but somewhere stuck in the ever present traffic that is highway 64 I realized that I already had the answer.  I was tired of leaving mentoring sessions and workshops being told that I had to settle for just being a good hobbyist or a decent second shooter.  I wanted more and I knew that I wasn’t the only one out there.

I started looking at past years revenues and analyzing what had worked and what hadn’t.  I began formulating and process mapping how to recreate my successes.  The inner nerd in me came out.  As I dug in deep, I found others who were struggling with being told they would never own a business or be successful at it and I began mentoring them.

Out of that one painful incident, the Restart Specialist was born.  I am grateful for those harsh words because they pushed me to move past the box the wedding industry wants to put me in.  Their viewpoint that because we relocate we can’t own a successful business is wrong.  Do I have to work harder, smarter, and faster because we move . . . yes.  Do I have to run my business a little bit differently  .  . .yes, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I chose this life, this man, this business and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

The Part Time Creatives

The Part Time Creatives

(I wrote about this on my personal website but this is an extension)

There’s a big movement going on in the photography industry right now. “Community Over Competition” has taken over and it’s empowering photographers to encourage and motive each other like never before. It’s been an incredible sight to behold, as a bystander, to watch the entire dynamic of our predominantly social industry change into a huge powerhouse of friendship and encouragement. They meet up on Tuesdays and always seem to have something going on. However, even in a community that opens in arms in such a positive way, it’s still possible to feel like an outsider.

Let me rewind a bit. 

I started my little business almost five years ago back in college and I never really knew where it would go or what to do with it. When it came time to graduate college, every one and their mother asked if I was going to be a full-time photographer and the answer was a confident no. I wanted to see what else was out there for me and I fell in love with digital marketing.

Here we are two years later and I still feel the same way about my answer. I work a full 40+ hour week at my day job in digital marketing and every night and weekend when I come home, if I am not editing or shooting, I am soaking in the rare nights I have to myself (and my husband and Max.) So while I prefer working on my career and working on my business simultaneously, I don’t have time to meet up and mingle with that wonderful group and it does feel like I’m always left out.  I know I am not the only business owner out there balancing a career with being an entrepreneur and I take comfort in the fact that someone, somewhere, is feeling a little left out too.

I edit photos on my lunch break, I send out contracts at 7am before work, I go to sessions after work sometimes still in my business clothes. It’s not conventional and it’s certainly not sane, but it’s just the way it is right now and I’ve gotten real comfortable with it. I use to hide all of this to my friends and clients, I didn’t want anyone to know that I was juggling both because I was afraid of what they would think. Was I not making enough money to just pick one? Did I not have any clients anymore? Did I piss them off and have to fall back on a regular job?  It felt like I was living a double life for awhile until I realized something so important. Just because I am not running my business like Pinterest says I should be running my business, doesn’t mean I am not successful. Success is defined by you, not the photographer with a six-figure income and tens of thousands of followers.  What does it look like for me? Coming home at the end of a long week after kicking ass for 40 hours, getting Google Analytics Certified, learning something new, etc, and then reading an email from a client who is so thankful she found you because you gave her confidence that she didn’t feel like she had before your session.

That’s success.

If you’re reading this and you’re balancing a day job with a burning passion for your small business, just remember one thing: just because you aren’t doing what the internet says you should be doing at this stage, doesn’t mean a damn thing. Keep rocking it out, keep pushing to defy that status quo, and remember, there’s always another lonely creative out there fighting the same good fight.

 

 

 

 

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“Defying the Status Quo”

For someone standing on the outside of the photography industry, I can understand how all of us look different. Each photographer has their own cute website with a handcrafted logo, different personalities, and obviously different photographs. However, are we truly all that different? In a community that seems consumed with the latest on Style Me Pretty and creating their own version of the same, how can we stay true to who we are while setting ourselves apart?

It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in what every photographer is doing these days. I could spend hours scrolling through my social feed just to get a millisecond of a sense to what is going on outside my own world. I keep hearing this #GirlBoss mentality but what is exactly does it mean to be a #GirlBoss if all I keep doing is “Keeping up with the Jones’”? What’s the big secret to defying the status quo and just kicking ass all on my own without fear that the community will reject me?

You have to stop caring.

I don’t mean that in a derogatory way of course. But there has to be a separation between what you want to be doing and what others are doing and the best way to keep those separated is to not worry about what the others are doing. It’s easier said than done, I am fully aware.  It’s also hard to do without alienating your friends and friendors. I rarely follow any local photographers for this exact reason and I totally see how that can come across as rude, like I am not being supportive. When in fact, it’s just for my own sanity.

I’ve always been a bit of a ‘loose cannon’. I say what I want; do what I want, when I want. It gets me into trouble sometimes but it’s just who I am… and maybe it’s because I’m an only child, who knows.  When it comes to my photography business though, it really helps me remember the most important piece; it’s my photography business. There’s no one to tell me “No you can’t put a cuss word on your website” or “No you can’t use 148,935 colors in your branding.” I’m the boss. The #GirlBoss.

Around this time last year, I started to develop a really crazy passion for food photography. It’s something that I had never done before and I was a little timid to post anything online because I was predominately known for weddings and what if posting my food photography wasn’t good? What if I sucked and only I thought I was good? What if it messes up my pretty Instagram feed? What if it’s not “cool” and what if people start saying things like “she’s probably shooting food because she can’t book any weddings?” Those little bugs sat in my ear for all of two seconds and then guess what… I stopped caring. Now I post my food work on the regular and am even considering starting up a side business.

Once you push past that barrier of “it’s not what everyone else is doing”, the more you creative and free you will feel. Isn’t that why we all started photography in the first place? To be creative?

 

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