I’ve decided to start off 2018 with a moment of transparency, because in this world of “picture perfect” social media lives and the need for photographers to feel like they’re constantly booked and busy all the time, we could use a bit of honesty. So here it is: I’ve been wrestling a lot this past year with whether or not I should continue this business venture.
To be honest, this blog post was originally titled “Farewell from Rachel Walters Photography”. I spent a lot of time thinking and praying and writing out in this blog post all the reasons I had for why I decided to quit this thing. I’ve been so anxious for so long trying to meet the expectations of everyone else and follow along closely enough with every other photographer to ensure I’m offering everything I can while staying “relevant”, that I hadn’t taken a step back to put up boundaries and pursue what I love most, and it took a major toll on me.
For a long time I’ve been wanting to narrow the focus of my work to solely newborn photos. I’ve listened to the opinions of others telling me I need to offer every type of photography service imaginable; that if I have a camera and know how to use it I should be expected to photograph it all, and make it available for every single person. But over the past 10 years in this business I’ve discovered that I’m not passionate about every form of photography, nor am I good at it all, and making my work financially available to every single person only means that I need to book so many clients to pay my bills that I end up in panic attacks all year long from either being so booked I have no time to get to it all, or not being booked enough to make ends meet, all within the span of a few months time every year. Everywhere I look I see other photographers going through the exact same thing because we’re all too afraid to say “no” or charge what we’re worth for fear of losing clients or not seeming “busy enough”. I’m finally at a place after all this time where I see how unhealthy that is for our marriages, families, and personal health, and I’m ok with coming to terms with all of that, because I know that my marriage and health are worth losing a few clients or not seeming super busy for. I’ve been so blessed to find clients in the past couple years who see the value in investing a little extra for beautiful artwork from a photographer who takes their time with them, and is able to pour everything into their session and client care.
Over the past few years I’ve found a passion within newborn photography that I haven’t found with any other genre. These are the sessions that mesh so well with my personality, and my heart comes alive more during newborn sessions than any other. To stay on board the honesty train here, I don’t feel confident with family and “older” children’s sessions; I’m awkward at directing families on what to do, and my personality doesn’t lend well to being crazy and getting older babies and kids to smile. And I’ve realized that’s ok, because with newborns I shine. The introvert in me loves the slow, quiet, patient process of wrapping and posing these brand new sleepy babes. I love the connection I’m able to create with parents during these sessions, and the exhaustion and joy and love that I see on their faces as they interact with their new baby. I schedule one newborn session in a day, so I don’t mind taking the time to wait while they eat or settle into a specific pose to make sure I get it just right. There’s absolutely no rush, because to me it’s more than just snapping some photos and getting you out the door and on to the next client; it’s about taking the time before, during, and after your session to create beautiful artwork so you can remember every sweet, tiny detail of your new baby that’s gone so quickly.
Beyond just creating beautiful newborn images, I’ve had this vision in my head of a studio space where, for a few hours, new parents can escape and feel pampered, relaxed, and even take some time to curl up and sleep during their newborn session if they want; a place where they can feel at home and have access to kitchen space if they need it for bottle prep. I haven’t been able to provide this experience for my clients in my Casco studio space, and I haven’t been able to afford an increase in rent at a different studio space either; I’ve been feeling so discouraged about it these past couple years along with everything else, that for the last few months I’ve actually had my mind made up that 2017 would be my last year in business. I stopped booking new sessions for 2018, I took on a very limited number of clients for the fall, and I took on a couple side jobs throughout this past year to allow myself the space to step back and really spend time praying and re-evaluating things.
Then something amazing happened: in August, my husband and I bought our very first house. And as we’ve started making it our own and putting up the white flowy curtains on our walls of windows in our living room that I’ve dreamed of for years, and walked past the small sun room behind that a million times, I started envisioning a new studio space. Right here in our home. A place that reflects my style; a place with perfect natural light along our front living room window wall where I can photograph newborn parent/family photos the same way I have been for the past couple years; a place where parents can relax and watch tv or curl up on the couch and take a nap while I photograph their baby just steps away; and as a bonus, a place that’s centrally located in Mt. Clemens, just a couple minutes drive from downtown and surrounding Macomb County neighborhoods.
Our new home (that we're continuing to work on cosmetically) couldn't be more perfect for photographing newborns; a fresh vision has been renewed in me, and I'm so excited about this new opportunity to provide the experience I’ve been dreaming of for years.
So for 2018 I’m following my passion and taking things in a different direction; I’ll be booking only newborn and senior portrait sessions (because I still love photographing seniors too), and taking a step back from family and baby milestone sessions. I’ll also be booking a very limited number of sessions per month, including in the fall. This is all a big step for me and a little scary to be moving away from an actual studio space into a home setting, but I’m taking a leap to create a better experience for my clients, and to allow myself to focus on the work I’m really passionate about creating.
So, if you’re due with a baby this year, I’d love to chat with you about creating beautiful memories for you to look back on. Check out my investment and booking info, and make sure to book soon since spaces will fill up quickly! I’m so excited to welcome new families into our home, and for all of the sweet new babies I’ll get to photograph this year.
Thank you so much to all of you who have stuck with me through the many changes I've made the past few years as I figure out what works and what doesn't for my business. I wouldn’t be here without your support, and I'm so thankful for you guys!