“Loving Our Selfies – Educate Yourself, Fool!”

On the subject of education, I’m a little biased; I was a high school teacher after all. It’s important for us to always keep learning and evolving so we don’t let our brains turn into a mushy, soupy mess (you’re welcome for that mental picture).

When it comes to our businesses, this is just as true!

Story time…

One of my first workshops took place with the amazing Lisa Kae in Grand Rapids, Mich. in the early summer of 2009. One of my girlfriends, who started her photography company a few months before, Tracy of Tracy Anne Photography (love ya TAP!), told me she was doing this workshop, at an actual wedding, and asked me if I wanted to do it too.

I jumped on the chance to work with LK and my friend. On the way to the wedding, we kind of speculated what our role would be. This wasn’t a typical workshop, we knew that, but we didn’t ask too many questions about it, because, duh, it was LISA FREAKIN’ KAE! We also talked about how neither of us really desired to shoot weddings as part of our business, but we knew we would learn a ton during the day.

Weeeeell let me tell you what happened. It. Was. Ah-maze-ing. Not only were we there learning from one of our state’s (an in my humble opinion, one of the nation’s) most talented photographers, we became her second shooters (OOOOMMMMGGGGG).  From the moment we got there, we picked up our cameras and shot. The entire day, LK guided us as to what she does, but let us chime in as well. We were all up in that shiiiz. Bridal party photos? Nailed it. Groomsmen? Check! Bride and groom’s first look? Boom! Reception? Bam! Ok, realistically, maybe mine and Tracy’s were nowhere near the quality of Lisa’s, but you catch my drift.

The conversation Tracy and I had leaving that wedding compared to the one on the way there was night and day different. To say we were pumped is an understatement. It was that workshop that gave me the confidence to say, “Tara Jean, you can do this! ALLLL NIIIIGHT LOOOONG!” (Sorry not sorry, I really love stupid movies and y’all probably have no idea what I’m talking about most of the time.)

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Within a month, I set myself up as business and haven’t looked back since. I do, however, always look forward. Just as I mentioned earlier, if you don’t use your brain it turns to sludge. Well, if you don’t use your skills and work on making them better, the same thing can happen to your photography business and your confidence as Creative Director, CEO, President, CFO and every other title most of us hold as small business owners.

That’s the reason I ponied up the cash to attend the Kitchen Sink Workshop with Amanda Holloway last fall. Wowza. Seriously, guys and gals, it was epic. What I loved about it, is she gave me my confidence back I started to lack after slowing down my business to have my crazy, sassy, energetic (entirely too much like her momma!) little, chunky monkey. She taught us real, hands-on useful skills. And helped re-ignite the fire under my arse for my business. I also met some of the most amazing women there who I can still go to for advice, guidance and a little confidence boosting if I need it. And now I have an even bigger network of wonderful people to go to for help and support because of the alumni group.

The point is you have to flex your brain and business muscles as much as your biceps if you want to get ripped. Workshops, conferences and classes will all help boost your confidence.  Many of us are really creative and have that side of our business taken care of, for the most part. However, some people need help with marketing, some with financials (that’s me. I SUCK at keeping track of all of that, ugh!). Education can help us get on track with any area we need. If I’m being fair, they can also get you overwhelmed with all the amazing crap you learn and if you’re like me you’re thinking in a very fast paced, scatter brained, holy crap kind of way, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh. I’m so far behind. Ok, I got this. First on the list, my senior mag. Then the blog. Wait, maybe I should do the blog first since that’s more public and people can see that now. But, pricing is key as well. Argh, but my branding needs refreshing so I will do that first and the rest will come after, hell, I will just do it all at once….AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!”

(One of my first senior shoots below. I’ve come a loooong way baby!)


Once you get home from learning all this said amazing crap, you can take your time implementing it if you want to so you don’t go cuckoo. Just be confident you have the tools to make your biz work for YOU! One thing at a time if that’s your style. If you want to take 12 things and run with it, go ahead!

Some of these workshops are expensive, so if you don’t have the money to do them, check out some free resources. Creative Live is out there. And, really? The Internet has a TON of free things you can find. Sorry, I’m not going to find them for you, but you can pick up what I’m putting down. Grab your equipment and just practice if you’re not in your busy season. Even my local camera store does inexpensive workshops, so check in with them as well.

We owe it to ourselves AND our clients to be all we can be. I sound like an Army commercial, don’t I? I mean it though, education can take us to the next level. Preparedness + Practice + Confidence = SUUUUUCCCCEEEES!

By the way, I’m looking to do another workshop this year or next, preferably in the winter and preferably somewhere WARM, so please, let me know, what do YOU recommend? And who wants to join me?!?!?

Until June 3, stay classy SSG readers.

Love, tara

P.S. Don’t forget to thank a teacher! Whether a workshop teacher, a teacher who inspired you back in high school or your child’s teacher, do it. You really have no idea how much it means to hear a simple thank you! With that being said, thank you Lisa Kae, Amanda Holloway, Julie Seraphinoff Price for being the most amazing teaching mentor a woman could have (we also got to have so much fun in, gasp, an actual darkroom with our students!!!!) Gary Parmentier, Cynthia Rowley, you MADE me work my TUSH off in AP English, and the countless number of educators who got my butt where I am today! Also, to all my students, teachers aren’t the only ones who teach lessons, you’ve all taught me a thing or two as well.

P.P.S. If you would like to follow me on Instagram, check me out @tjmesyn and @taramesyn on Twitter <3