Self-Employment: Month 4 ~ Chicago Wedding Photographer

I’m pretty sure I was just writing last month’s post, and now here we are again at the end of month 4 already! I can’t get over how quickly time is flying. It actually worries me a bit that the rest of my life is going to fly by at this pace. Sloooow doooown pleeeease!

When I last chatted with you guys I was still really struggling, but at the same time finally feeling like I was hitting my stride (or at least I knew what steps I needed to take to get there). Things were starting to calm down some and I was focused on re-prioritizing my time and my life.


So – with that in mind – Month 4 for me was all about these 3 R’s:

  • Relaxing
  • Rejuvenating
  • Researching



It probably helped with the relaxing part that within this past month fell two holidays. As I’m sure you remember, we spent a nice long weekend home with my family for Christmas

… and we hosted a little dinner party for New Year’s Eve

Then last weekend my brother, Will, came to visit and we enjoyed a totally relaxing weekend just hanging out at home. It was so nice!

Having people visit for the weekend always makes me better manage my time so I’m more productive during the week (because I know I don’t have two extra days to get things done) and as a result – I’m more relaxed on the weekends because I take some real time off – and it’s pretty fabulous!

Oh – and I would be silly not to mention that Super Mario Bros. had a small part in helping me relax more often this last month too! 😉



I had some time away from shooting in December. I didn’t have a session for over 4 weeks, which allowed me to catch up on my 2011 editing (all done!), tackle a to-do list that has been in the works for months, and really take some time to think about my business and where it is going. So when I did finally get back to shooting at the start of my 4th month of self-employment – I was feeling incredibly rejuvenated and ready to go! (I was even a bit nervous the first time I picked up my camera because it had felt like so long since I’d been behind it!)

But I threw myself right in there – and shot an adorable newborn session, a gorgeous couple’s engagement, a totally unforgettable wedding, and a beautiful (but chilly!) engagement session in the snow.

What was SO nice was that the pace of the work felt just right. I had enough booked to keep me busy – but not so much that I was completely overwhelmed by it all. I was able to give 110% to all my clients, do my best work, and get it back to them in a timely manner. After seeing how well things run when I’m caught up – and how much happier I am when that’s the case – I aim to keep this up for all of 2012 – because it makes such a HUGE difference!

As well as feeling rejuvenated on the shooting front – I was also feeling rejuvenated on the business front. I took part in a SHARE meeting in early January where I met other wedding photographers from Chicago and Wisconsin that also use Showit websites. (Such an amazing community!!)

(Photo courtesy of the beautiful Emilia of Emilia Jane Photography!!)

We got to know each other, talked about our goals and dreams, and encouraged each other to get out there and make them happen! The day after our meeting I had such a pep in my step, I couldn’t believe it! I felt SO refreshed and ready to tackle all that 2012 has in store! I’m so excited to continue these meet-ups each month and to meet more people in the industry!



I suppose I could have titled this one “reading” as well… but I like the sound of research better since the things I’ve been reading have all been business-related! I read Jose Villa’s Fine Art Wedding Photography, numerous online articles & blogs (including Stacy Reeves’ Greatest Pricing Guide Ever), and am in the process of reading The E Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber.

All of these things have been incredibly helpful in different ways. Jose inspires me through his images more than anything, while Stacy gave me some real hard numbers/facts to think about in regards to my pricing, and Michael’s book about running a successful small business is just blowing my mind so far!! Most importantly, it has made me realize that what I went through in Month 3 was not weird, or crazy, but instead – totally normal for a new business still in its ‘infancy’ stage! Some of the things in the book seriously could have been taken directly out of my last blog post – even down to the breakdown in the car! haha! Basically, this book has me thinking about my business in an entirely new (and exciting) way. When I finish the book I may devote an entire blog post too it – so I’ll just leave it at that for now!

I also did some self-research this month. I figured out how many weddings we need to shoot this year to pay the bills – 25 (which means we have 4 more to book… not bad for mid-January, I think?)! While we need that many to make it – I do hope to shoot anywhere between 25 and 30 so that we can actually save some money and not be pinching pennies each month. I also decided that because the wedding side of the business will be much more busy this year than in years past – I’m definitely going to limit the amount of regular sessions I take on in 2012. (So if you’re hoping to book a session with me for anytime between June and November – you’re going to need to contact me EARLY…. like… NOW. Or contact me for a spring session and I’ll have plenty of time for you!) I’ve come to these decisions because, like I said earlier, I want to continue to feel in control and caught up so that I can give every client the best service possible and deliver my best work!


All in all – I feel like this past month has been so great! I’m excited for the places my business is going and really hope that 2012 will be the year I learned from my past mistakes – which should make it the best year yet! Now… on to Month 5 I go (which should be full of spreadsheets, income/expense calculations, and taxes)! Yay! 😉

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Christy & James are Chicago based but happily travel anywhere in the world that beautiful love stories take them!