One Image, One Session, One Wedding, Will Not Make Your Career

Friday, November 26th, 2021

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We all know the feeling as entrepreneurs: that we’re on the edge of our big break. That we just need that one epic wedding. That one gorgeous session. That one *perfect* image that will suddenly make you known, and the clients will just flock to hire you. I was there once.

I just thought I needed one session to hit it big and get known.

Early in my career, I was reading blogs on an adventure photographer’s website, about how they did one epic session at a national park and it launched their adventure career.

I thought, that’s got to be me. And low and behold, one of my wedding couples asked if they could do a session in that national park, because they just so happened to be vacationing there soon.

The session was incredible. They were so incredible, we had SO much fun, and it was truly one of the most memorable experiences of my entire life. This couple touched my soul again at their wedding, and I love watching them continue to grow in life.

After they received their images, I excitedly posted the blog, waiting for the thousands of bewildered people to follow my social media. To want to hire me. For my slow-and-steady-growth career to take off into an overnight success.

And what happened? Crickets. Everywhere. Even on Pinterest, where I historically had blog success. Nobody noticed, nobody cared.

And I tried over and over – posted more images. More on Pinterest. Adding more hashtags. Nothing happened.

The reality is, there is no single image, session, wedding that will make you an overnight success.

Even if one takes off, the attention is fleeting. One of my wedding blog posts went viral on Pinterest a few years ago, garnering over a million image views in just a week. But even that, nothing came of it.

On the internet, most folks are just interested in what others are doing. There isn’t a hidden, potential market to tap. No secret sauce that will bring you success.

Except endurance, and perseverance.

What I needed to learn.

If I had tossed in the towel after that National Park blog post didn’t take off, I would have never experienced so many other incredible couples and sessions. I would have never transitioned into documentary work. There was so much growth found in that “failure” that I am incredibly thankful for it every, single, day.

That was the thing I needed to learn from this: nobody else was watching. So you can fall on your face, fail over and over, and nobody will notice. But you know who was watching? That couple that I served with my entire heart.

You build your audience person by person, by blowing away the clients you’re working for. Let them be your audience of one (or two). Let those individuals be the only thing that drives you in your work. If you continue to blow them away, over time, you build your supporters and audience in a real way, that makes them not only invested in the work you’ve created for them, but you as a person.

And this type of growth is slow. Painfully slow. You’ll want to quit at least once a week and constantly ask yourself why you don’t have a 9-5 with health insurance. And the reality is you will never feel like you’ve “made” it.

But blowing away your audience of one, all the time, over and over again, is a completely attainable goal, a rewarding one, and one that will set you apart from the crowd.

M

Hey! I'm Makayla, a wedding photojournalist based in Duluth, MN and Saint Paul, MN. 

I believe that stories are best told untouched, undirected, and with intentionality and meaning.

This blog is a space to share advice for couples about weddings, advice for photographers about witnessing events with intention, and steps to create decisions based on your values and what matters most to you.

Grab your favorite beverage, pull up a chair, and let's get to know each other.

M

The Autumn Dog Studio

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