Webster’s dictionary defines community as a unified body of individuals. Simple, straight forward. Communities of people usually have something in common that brings them together. I want to be in a community of people that seek to lift and build one another. I want to be part of something that helps others and creates bonds instead of competition. In that same community, I want to find friendship and honesty.
Right now you are thinking, it’s great that you want those things Michelle, but why? When I first started into photography, I was going to pave my own path. Do my own thing. And I didn’t need anyone’s help. I could figure out the ropes by myself. I wish someone would have knocked me on the head for thinking that. I needed people. I needed help and most importantly I needed friends who would be honest with me when I needed opinions. In the past year, I have reached out to make friends and found myself gaining true friends who I know I can always count on for photography help and life help. They are people who will give me honest opinions on my work, help with my rebrand, swap sessions, celebrate with me, and promote me. In these people I have found a community that I belong in. Because of these people, I now have a better understanding of WHY we all need a community.
- Dealing with the ugly side of this business– This is something that we don’t learn or know about when we jump into the photography business. We are have the notion in our mind that it’s all about shooting, inquiries are always happening, editing is a breeze, and we are always happy! And that sadly isn’t always true. That means when the ugly side of this business comes to get us, we don’t know what is happening. It brings in self doubt when no inquiries are coming in. It tells us we aren’t improving or being enough. It also tells us that we are ALONE, no one else is experiencing these things. Those are all LIES! Having your own community of friends and peers that you can turn too is key. You need a group of people that will listen and let you know that you are not alone and that it has or is happening to them too. Those community can help build you up in a way that will help you get going again, because they believe in you. This happened for me last night with my friend Meghan. Sometimes we just need to confide in each other about the hard times and receive encouragement to keep going!
- You need a cheerleader– I’m so grateful to have family that believes in what we are doing and encourages us, but sometimes they just don’t understand how exciting something may really be to us. Maybe you found out you were going to be published in a bride blog for the first time and you want to celebrate (because you should!). You call your family and they say, “Congrats, that’s really cool.” They don’t understand that you need big smile emojis and confetti emojis galore. People outside of the industry won’t ask, who is publishing it?!?!?! When are they publishing it?!?!? WHAT are they publishing?!?! Find a community who knows how important these moments are so they can celebrate too!! That community can also help cheer you on as you try to tackle a big project. When I was working on my workshop information, I had multiple friends ask me how it was going and check in with me after to see how it all went. Those are the people you need in your life!
- Ask the hard questions– Mary Marantz is known for this. She asks the hard questions in her blog posts, presentations, and workshops. She asks you the hard questions. The questions that make you think. The questions that make you open up your heart. The questions that make you unwrap the pretty answers and to dig deep to what’s really going on. Because we can’t all sit down on one on with Mary every day (although that would be amazing if we could), we need to find our own community of people that will ask us those hard questions. We need someone who will make us open up our hearts to find the root of what is going on. Those hard questions have to be heard and someone needs to be there to listen, find those who will listen. Sometimes I think we are on the edge of something great and we can’t quite make the scale tip on it, because there is something we are missing. And usually it is in the answers to the hard questions that we find that tipping point.
Communities can be large or small- sometimes they are both. I have a large community I can turn too, but also a much smaller one. That small community of my true friends that I can turn to for anything and they are always willing. Find your community and I promise that not only will your business benefit, but your life will be better too! A community lifts others and helps us overcome the difficult times, because they understand.
Speaking of community- there will be a “Tuesdays Together” (on a Wednesday!) tonight in Idaho Falls at The Cocoa Bean at 7:30PM. For more information on it find it here.