The other night I was reading a book and the dreamboat of a guy asked the workaholic-but-soon-to-be-soulmate who she was. She told him her name and occupation. He smiled gently and said, “That’s what you do, but it’s not who you are. You are more than a job.”
You may think that’s an odd way to start a series on “How to be a Boutique Photographer” but really, that statement is at the very core of the boutique business model.
We all can remember the early days in our career when we were so unsure of ourselves and wary of our skills that we stumbled over the words “professional photographer.” I remember going around the house practicing to myself, “Hello. My name is Megan. I am a…. I am a… I am a……… professional……. photographer?” It took years for me to own my talent and willingly share that information with complete strangers. And what was the big deal anyway? A newly graduated doctor is proud of their title, a beauty shop owner can’t stop raving about her business, and even the little tyke down the street with the lemonade stand calls out his pitch to anyone who passes within a quarter mile. So why was I so timid of the profession that I had chosen?
It comes down to simple confidence. Confidence in who we are as photographers and as people. We don’t have to be the most talented person in town or have the six-month waiting list or the 2,000 sq ft studio. We just have to know who we are and be happy with that, but even more importantly, we have to know who we can be. After all, being a photographer is just a title. Really, it is. Anyone who clicks the button on a camera can call themselves a photographer. And they are one in the truest definition of the word. Then we tack on the word “professional” in front of that and suddenly we are elevated to this plane of seasoned pros. But still, anyone who operates a business is a professional. The hot dog stand vendor is just as much a professional as the CEO of the Fortune 500 company. Being labeled a professional photographer isn’t what makes you special. Let me say that again.
Being labeled a professional photographer isn’t what makes you special.
You may hold the job of a professional photographer but it’s not who you are. It’s what you do. You are more than a job. You are a more than just a picture-taker and button-clicker. You are more than someone who pushes around paper and files taxes.
You are the one people trust with the most important moments in their life. And that is what makes you special.