Can you believe that Thanksgiving is tomorrow? How did THAT happen? Along with Thanksgiving, November is the month people often think about what they are thankful for. I would like to say that every day I think about it, but like many, I get caught up in the daily race and lose sight of the wonderful things right in front of me. So, this month I have been concentrating on what I have to be grateful for, and what better way to honor those things than by writing a blog about it!
We just passed out 13th year in business as Paws and Claws Pet Photography. Wow. Paws and Claws is a teenager! Luckily we won’t have to deal with moodiness or growth spurts, and while some might say 13 is an unlucky number, how fortunate am I to have had this many years of taking photos of beautiful animals and their loving families? I’ve learned so much along the way; I’ve honed my craft; I’ve become more business savvy; I’ve and made some incredible friendships along the way.
But it wasn’t always a cake walk. As other small business owners know, it’s hard starting out on your own, especially when you are in a niche market. I faced some challenges by focusing on pet photography. 2005 was long before the coffee table books of underwater dogs or social media channels that highlight perfectly posed animals, or even Instagrammers who dress up their pets and give them their own account. Nope, I was on my own, and no one wanted to take me seriously. It was unheard of to focus on taking photos of animals, which came as a shock to me. As someone who has opened her home and heart to animals my entire life, why not capture them the same way parents do their new babies and young children?
Obviously, I forged my path, and I’m proud to say that my work spoke for itself. Over time, people and customers warmed up to the idea and word spread and my client base grew. The internet certainly helped, both with spreading the word and sharing my work. The internet help introduce me and my work to people all over the country and increased my exposure. Last year I attended an invitation-only pet photography workshop in California. I was one of only nine photographers from across the country asked to attend to network and foster ideas to improve our photography and our businesses. I loved the opportunity to learn and better myself so I happily accepted and attended the workshop. And I also learned how many others are out there that share my same passion.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the past 13 years is to trust myself. I got my degree from the New York School of Photography, because it was important to me to learn from teachers and understand the entire film process. There are many talented photographers who have done quite well for themselves learning in other ways, but I’m so thankful I trusted my gut and went for this degree and learned how to shoot and develop film. The hundreds of hours I’ve spent in darkrooms processing films and understanding how to get the exposure just right, has given me a perspective on photography that I find to be priceless. By no means does this take away from anyone else’s path, I’m speaking purely about my lessons learned and what has worked for me.
Of course, I can’t be grateful for this without thanking you, my friends, clients and family. Without your support over the years, I wouldn’t be able to write this and feel this feeling of gratitude. Corey and our menagerie at home inspire me on a daily basis and for that I’m thankful.
Tomorrow, when we sit down to our Thanksgiving dinner, I’ll once again think about what I’m grateful for. I hope you can do the same. Enjoy your holiday and again, thank you from the bottom of my heart.