Behind The Scenes of 2017 • Miranda Kelton Photography
Man, 2017 sure was a year.
...not only in my personal life, but in my professional life as well! Building a business from scratch is no joke - #nodaysoff can suddenly become a permanent lifestyle if you’re not being conscious about scheduling little periods of rest for yourself here & there. Creative & physical burnout is no fun, let me tell you!
Of course, challenging & pushing myself certainly has had its benefits - I had so many wonderful opportunities in 2017 and was blessed with some amazing growth in return for all my hours of staring at editing screens, networking, & shooting!
below are a few of the important things I experienced last year as a photographer.
found a Studio Space
I reached out to another portrait photographer here in Santa Barbara (hi, Ashleigh Taylor!) to see if she’d be willing to let me share her space with her. I made the decision to invest in renting a Studio for a couple of reasons - one being that I wanted to experiment with & learn techniques for studio photography, and two - I had previously only been able to offer clients on-location for their shoots & it gave me a whole new world of creative options to have a well-lit studio space at my disposal. Two, I found it really improves your work life to have a clean, streamlined, professional place to shoot - & it makes working with brand new clients that you don’t know that well yet that much easier!
Hired a Makeup Artist
Never underestimate the power of a good makeup artist. Prior to 2017, I had been doing 100% of the styling myself - hair, makeup, wardrobe, you name it. I started to get a little overwhelmed once my schedule became busier...it’s hard to wear all of those hats at once & still be at a professional level with your shooting/editing/businesswoman skills as well! Delegating saves sanity, people. Not only has having a contracted makeup artist been amazing, but I have some hair stylists & wardrobe stylists that I consult with occasionally as well to give me advice. Team work makes the dream work!
Networked with other professionals
Another thing that helped me up my game this year was to meet up with a local Social Media Marketing guru (hi, Erin Fred!) - in this day & age where Instagram is king, we all pick up on some little marketing strategies here & there. However, that’s no match for actually sitting down with someone who does business marketing for a living & letting them create a full on, customized marketing plan for your business. It helps to have someone explain the complicated stuff, too - when it comes to analytics & SEO (& taxes!) - find someone to help you out so you don’t have to spend precious time figuring it out yourself. Having help is so empowering!
set up Collab Shoots
Early on in 2017 I decided to run a limited amount of test/collab shoots with new faces & small businesses in the area in order to practice, build my portfolio, & have more material to be able to market myself & my services with. Collabs can be frustrating sometimes - it’s easy to look at all the hours you’re spending planning & executing shoots & think “ugh, all this work & for what? I lose money on test shoots since all the expenses are out of my pocket & i’m not charging the client - this doesn’t make me a penny!” However, collab/test shoots are REALLY valuable for practicing new techniques, networking with a different client base, & just as an outlet for a new creative idea! I did so many collab shoots over the course of the year, & every single one of them was amazing - I learned so much, made friends, & I’ve got lots of wonderful images & new connections to show for it.
worked with new clients
Collab shoots aside, I worked for some wonderful new clients & businesses over the course of the year! In the spring, I was given the opportunity to shoot red carpet for a stock photo agency at Santa Barbara International Film Festival - & can now say that i’ve shot celebrities (Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, & Denzel Washington!). A great experience, but hey, I was stressed. Not just a little bit stressed, either - the red carpet photographer life is not for me. Other clients included local clothing companies, models & actors, yoga teachers, fashion bloggers, etc. A huge thank you to all of my amazing clients for choosing me to be their photographer!
Failed, a lot
Honesty hour - I screwed up. A lot. I backfocused an entire session (moral of the story: test & calibrate your new lenses before you shoot a client session with them, duh). I shot too many sessions too close together & made dumb technical mistakes because I was overtired. I took on work I knew shouldn’t have, just because I felt like I needed the money. I let people pressure me into doing things a certain way just because I wanted to be accepted, hired, liked. I’m a superduper perfectionist, so any failure, big or small, throws me for a loop and makes me feel terrible about myself. But it’s true what they say...you have to fail now and then in order to get better. Lessons learned!
made (& spent) money
Life is expensive. Santa Barbara is expensive. Photography equipment is expensive. Being one of those dreaded avocado-toast-buying millennials is expensive. Put all that together & hey, look - a whole new level of extreme, mental breakdown-inducing financial stress! But the best part is, I kept careful records of all my incoming/outgoing business expenses, & after all is said done I actually made money off of Photography in 2017. A small victory, maybe - but imagine that, a profit! We all start somewhere.
Resolutions for 2018...
For this year? I’d like to blog more consistently, travel more, implement my marketing plan, & continue to learn new techniques. I’ve got my eye on a couple new lenses, maybe some studio lighting setups, too…& i’ve got a whole list of financial/business goals i’d like to try & reach. I can hardly wait to see where 2018 takes me!