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Saturday, December 9, 2023

I Took a Creative Risk and Found My Passion

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Oh, the world of the wedding industry… where to even begin? The wedding industry is full of joy, gorgeous details, and amazing vendors, but none of it struck a chord with me. I was part of the wedding industry for two whole years, and I never seemed to “fit in.”I would be on the verge of throwing up before any wedding I shot. I am not even kidding. So I took a creative risk and found my passion. 

How I went from a wedding photographer to a portrait photographer
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Don’t get me wrong… I would still provide an amazing amount of service for every single bride, but there was something gut-wrenching about every wedding I photographed. What if my memory card corrupted? What if the mother of the bride hated all the photos of her? What if I failed?

I finally realized that I didn’t find joy in shooting weddings anymore. I felt as though I could cause a potential disservice to future brides. I didn’t think it was fair to other wedding photographers who COULD provide an incredible experience to those future brides. I knew it was time to leave the wedding industry.

How I took a creative risk and found my niche

I am not even sure how this happened,

but I stumbled upon “28 Days of Portrait Photography,” a Creative Live class, led by Sue Bryce. After one of the free, live classes I was hooked. I threw $299 at Creative Live to buy the whole course, and I was a changed photographer! I was immediately drawn to modern, glamor photography, and the level of service I could provide to clients would be more of an experience. I thought glamor photography died back in the 90s, but I saw something unique in this revitalized style.

I took a creative risk and became a modern portrait photographer

In the middle of 2016, I had about 7 weddings booked for the rest of the year, with my last wedding on November 12th. It was a scary step, but I decided not to book any weddings for the following year.

I had so much push back from my family and friends, but I told them I just couldn’t do it anymore. They worried about the financial aspect, and I worried about my heart and soul.

There was hesitation around my decision, and I had a lot of people telling me I was ruining a blossoming career. I didn’t care about what they thought. Ok, actually, I did care. But, ultimately I knew that my mental well-being was more important than becoming some big-time wedding photographer.

Now it was time to figure out how in the heck to make this thing work. Luckily, Sue Bryce taught the importance of selling printed products, and I was able to develop a system to match, and surpass, my wedding sales.

How to take a creative risk in your photography business and grow with print sales

On November 12th, I shot my last wedding as “Amber Nicole Photography,” and boy was it so bittersweet. This bride was the epitome of my dream client, and the day was so perfect. I couldn’t have ended my wedding career in a better way.

Yet, I was having a TON of self-doubt.

Why I took a creative risk and left the wedding industry to become a portrait photographer

I set a goal to launch “Amber Nicole Portrait,” as a boutique, portrait brand in the beginning of 2017 and never look back. I was also planning my own wedding, so my emotions were freaking crazy! Little did I know at the time, I wouldn’t have a single portrait client, at my new pricing, until April of 2017.

Finding your niche is tough. For a couple of months, I felt like a complete and total failure, like I had made a huge mistake. I was scrambling around in desperation to find clients, and I did a TON of work for free, trying to make it work. By the beginning of March 2017, I was ready to close the doors of my business and call it quits. I thought to myself, I am not made to be an entrepreneur. I am not made to be a photographer. I am not good enough.

Those words were like a broken record player in my head… over… and over… and over again.

Here is the thing you need to know about leaving something “comfortable” and finding your niche… it isn’t easy. It really isn’t. But it is the single most rewarding thing I have EVER done in my photography career.

I found my niche in making the average, everyday woman feel like a supermodel. I believe that you should celebrate your beauty throughout your life, and not just on your wedding day. I believe that EVERYONE deserves to exist in photographs. I believe that printing your photos will bring you much more joy than leaving them on a USB in your desk drawer. I believe in creating PRICELESS family heirlooms, to pass down for hundreds of years to come.

Listening to people’s stories, and photographing them despite their insecurities, is the greatest accomplishment in my life thus far.

Modern Portrait Photography by Amber Nicole Portrait

To tell you the truth, I am still figuring this whole process out. Hey, what entrepreneur isn’t? I am sure Oprah still has her moments of learning and doubt… or not… because you know, she is ACTUALLY perfect. 😉

All I know is that finding my niche has rejuvenated my creative spirit. I provide an experience for my clients, and it isn’t an experience most photographers are capable of. I found a system and a differentiator that truly makes me stand out, and my clients even take notice.

Is everyone looking for a boutique, portrait photographer? No, not really. But those who do find me, and who do resonate with my core values, become clients for life.

I would like to leave you with some advice about finding your niche, because hey, you didn’t just come here to listen to me ramble on!

  1. Your booking rate will drop, and it is 100% ok.
  2. You can now charge more for your services/product because YOU are the expert in your niche. No one can do what you are doing. (this will also help balance out your booking rate)
  3. Show what work you WANT to produce (i.e. I don’t use wedding photos in any marketing materials, because, duh, I don’t want to shoot them anymore)
  4. You are going to have haters. You are going to have doubters. You are going to have to push through that and know you are worth it.
  5. Lastly, just do it! Follow your true passion, and clients will find you!

Ultimately it is your decision to decide what is best for you and your business.

Swimming against the stream and finding your own way goes against every single intuition we have as human beings. Our minds and bodies literally do not want to face anything “scary” or“dangerous.”

Finding a very specific niche isn’t for everyone, but I do suggest finding your
people. Find who your favorite clients are, build a brand persona around them, and attract more and more people just like that.

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