This post is wayyyyy overdue, but yep, you read that right! I’ve been doing photography for 10 years now and recently attended a beginners workshop. I’m sure you’re wondering “uh why?” so let me tell ya.
Although I’ve been shooting for 10 years now, I did not begin to truly purse photography (and in my opinion actually become decent at it) until 2019-ish. If I’m being honest, I didn’t even own a prime lens, or lens that wasn’t the kit lens, until my sophomore year (2015) of college. Completely whack, I know.
Photography was something I enjoyed but did not practice consistently until 2018 when I was hired as a fashion and lifestyle photography for Sabi Boutique in College Station, TX (big shout out to them, they hecking rock and are the sweetest most supportive family). Although I finally was getting the consistent practice and improving day by day, I still felt that my editing was not consistent and was struggling to find my style. I wanted my images to not only be fun and tell a story, but I also wanted them to be bright and vibrant while remaining true to color. Somewhat of a challenge if you’re shooting at all hours of the day in the ever-changing light.
In addition to struggling with my style I had some serious questions about the legal and business side of things. How do I register as a legal business? Do I charge sales tax? How do I declare my income and pay taxes on the money I am making? What’s SEO and how do I use it to my advantage? This and a million other questions ran through my mind constantly. I’d tried googling and watching YouTube videos but the information varied and was overwhelming to say the least.
I had followed Shelby Tsika Photography on instagram for quite a while (and always admired her work) so when I saw she was holding a FREE photography workshop with her friend Katie Knotts I was all ears. After reading up on it I knew it would perfect for the current stage my business and I were in. Even so, I had to apply and I was worried I would be turned down because I was too advanced and not really a beginner. I mean, I was already comfortable shooting in manual and felt like I had a decent handle on my website and working with/posing clients. Why in the heck would I be chosen? I literally waited until the night before the application was due to apply. Silly, I know.
As if it’s not obvious, I was chosen to be one of the photographers at this amazing workshop. I was ecstatic. Of course I was nervous since this would be my first photography workshop, but my good friend Allyson Gordon, who also owns a photography business, would also be in attendance so at least I knew someone! I was still somewhat nervous however since I decided to sign up for the optional second day of the workshop. That meant I’d be spending the night in an Airbnb with several other girls whom I did not know. It’s a scary thought to say the least. In addition, the second day also came with a price tag (shout-out to my mom who really convinced me to go and invest in my business).
Let me just say, going to that second day and getting one-on-one time with two hecking awesome professional photographers, as well as getting to hang out and networking with other newbie photographers was so worth it. It has quite literally changed my business for the better. Not only am I a more confident photographer, but I now have multiple friends within the industry. I’ve been able to second shoot weddings more than I have previously and I am constantly getting and giving referrals within this little friend group! Plus, we are able to learn from and get advice from one another. Just the other day I found myself needing a little help and their advice gave me the confidence and support I was needing!
The workshop took place at the perfect time — right when the new year had kicked off and everyone had gotten their footing, and just before COVID-19 shut down the world. I’m sure you’re thinking “how the heck was that the perfect time? You learned all these new things and couldn’t apply them for months!” Well folks, right after this workshop I had my first ever styled shoot (click here to read about that), so I was able to apply everything I had learned the following week. Then, although the rest of my sessions were postponed because of the pandemic, I was able to work on my style and really refine it (this is huge, I finally got to where I want to be and how I imagined my work looking). I also took this off time to completely re-do and update my website, in addition to working on marketing and towards my ideal client.
I must have done something right because soon after, I booked my first out of state wedding AND every single one of my spring 2020 seniors was my ideal client. Say whaaaaaat!? Yep. That’s right. Katie and Shelby definitely set you up for success and give you the knowledge to bring your business to the next level. This business of mine is living breathing proof of that. Now let me be clear, it was not easy and I have put in extremely long hours (I do work a full time job on top of photography), but hey, dreams don’t work unless you do! I am by no means perfect and I still have questions and tons of room to grow, but for now, I am just proud of how far I’ve come. Oh and if you’re thinking about attending a workshop, whether it be this one or another one, I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend it. Just make sure you do your research and it’s geared towards you and where you want to go with your business!
Workshop: The Devote Collective by Katie Knotts Photography and ShelbyTsika Photography
Venue: Mae’s Ridge in Johnson City, TX
Sponsors: Honeybook and Kindred Presets
Florals: Christie Turner Floral Design
HMU: Project Artistry
Models: The Crakes, Madeline Harper, Sara Lange
Stationary: Grace Paper Co.
I may not be the best writer in the world, but I have some crazy and breathtaking stories to share. Here’s a few of my favorite stories I have had the privilege of photographing.
Jeanette Sorianello is a Texas Hill County photographer specializing in vibrant + genuine weddings and portraits.