When I launched this business, I felt pretty strongly about couples and weddings, but I had my hands in anything and everything a potential client inquired about just trying to find where I felt most comfortable. Looking back, the biggest hurdle (among the MANY) I had to overcome was wanting so badly to tap into the wedding market but not having work in my portfolio to get there. This can sometimes work for other sessions because the risk is far less, meaning the session could always be redone if it needed to be. Thus, I find clients are willing to take a little more risk/trust a little more, however you want to look at it. But weddings are different in that regard. If I were thinking less like a photographer wanting so badly to book weddings, and more like a bride, I totally get it. I'm more of a see-to-believe type, too.
I had options - give away a wedding for free, be another photographer's second shooter, or prove my abilities as a photographer in general and hope just ONE PERSON would trust me enough. I just needed one.
Fast forward, I booked that one, and quickly booked the rest of my quota that year right after. I was so happy, and each wedding proved as confirmation that there was something special about this niche that I'd grow to focus 95% of my efforts there.
Over the last two and a half years, that niche has remained but my purpose has really evolved. I found that focusing less on the quantity of clients and more on quality mattered a lot to my business structure. My main goal was not to make as much money as possible, but rather to make the most positive impact on the clients I was fortunate enough to call mine. I found that setting aside time in my schedule to get lunch and coffee and text back and forth with my brides made the whole experience that much more enjoyable for all of us, and therefore, a cap of weddings I would take on each year was really important to me. The lunch and coffee and constant conversation made me more of a friend and less of just another vendor. And I have walked away from each wedding with new friends, versus closing the door because that transaction ended.
Brides invest in me. They get one shot at this wedding thing- the event that marks a serious turning point in their lives that gets summed up in pictures (and maybe video if they've booked a videographer, too). It's an honor to be the person to provide the one, tangible thing left over when the day ends, and I don't take that lightly. It's more than just an investment- it's a whole lot of trust.
At the beginning of this year, when I sat down to goal set and reflect on where I've been and where I intend to go, I was so overwhelmed at the evolution that's happened. I could recount the real friendships I've made and I quickly honed in on the fact that beyond the pretty diamonds, and stunning gowns, and floral arrangements, cake and sparklers, it's the relationships that keep me passionate. So, I swallowed my pride assuming they'd all think I had lost my mind, and I sent an email to all of my Lauren Taylor brides asking if they'd be interested in a reunion.
What sounded so crazy in my head played out better than I could've ever imagined, and all but a handful were able to make it. I had a few travel here from NC, DC and Fredericksburg. I had one that has since had a baby and made it a priority to come hang out even though sometimes it's tough to part with mom duties. I had two that have since become pregnant and came excitedly regardless of being unable to enjoy the mimosas. Y'all, this is what it's all about for me. We laughed, we reminisced on wedding days, the girls connected on a personal level despite the fact that many were meeting for the first time, we ate, we drank mimosas, we just had quality girl time.
Despite the many things that felt like hurdles at the last minute, the stress of just wanting it to be perfect, the few that couldn't come.... It was sweet confirmation that this is exactly what I was called to do. And no doubt, that was just the first of an annual recurring event because what a perfect way to watch the community grow. Thank you to each of you who were able to make it, and each of you for trusting me and loving me and playing along with my crazy ideas. You've each blessed me more than you know.
PS. I had so much fun I failed to take the amount of pictures I intended to, but the memories are so, so sweet and I'll cherish them forever.
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