Jessie_Bennett_Photography

When someone new finds out that I am a photographer, the first question is usually ‘what do you photograph?’ … I always have dreaded this question in a way, because to be quite honest, I didn’t really know the answer.  So I would end up saying something ultra-vague like ‘I photograph people’ … give a little chuckle, and try to change the subject.  Occasionally whomever I was talking to would press on, either they knew there was something deeper, or were completely oblivious to my insecurity … I’d like to think it’s the former ;) so they would ask additional questions, ‘do you photograph weddings?’ was a common question I would hear.  To which I would emphatically answer ‘NO!’

Obviously, I am super good at marketing myself, and sharing my passion for photography (and by really good, I mean HORRIBLE).

So on I went … building my little business photographing people … mainly young families and newborns, and I enjoyed it.  But I soon found out that I didn’t love it.  You know the saying ‘find something you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life’ … well I wasn’t there, and for me this started to become toxic.  I became extremely critical of my work, knocking myself down instead of building myself up, and I started saying ‘I am going through an existential brand crisis’ to friends and family … but I didn’t know where to go, so I stayed the course.

I enjoy photographing newborns and families, don’t get me wrong … it is such a special time in life, one that I am forever grateful I have experienced twice with my own children.  And I can’t put into words the absolute joy I feel when looking at the photos taken by my dear, dear friends in those initial days of bringing our babies home for the first time.  But for my business, I found myself in desperate need of some soul searching.

So one night, I was scrolling mindlessly through my most favorite time suck … Instagram, when a photo caught my eye.  It was an image advertising a DIY Branding Checklist through Letterform Creative.  Thinking that sounded fun, I clicked on the link and signed up for the checklist … little did I know what a journey I was embarking on.  Megan at Letterform is amazing to work with, and asked questions that really made me think … what are some adjectives that describe your business, how do you want your business to be perceived in the market, and my favorite … if your brand was a person, what would they do, what would they wear, what would they love.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that where I was and where I wanted to be, were very different … and I was inspired to move forward, to grow through my insecurities, and the find true joy in my work.

Remember how I said that previously the thought of wedding photography sent a shudder down my spine … how I absolutely did not think that was where my focus would be?  Well, this past year presented me with some interesting opportunities, when several of our close friends and family members became engaged, and asked if I would be interested in photographing their weddings.  My response was always a very excited ‘of course!’ and in my mind I would legitimize my fear, telling myself that I was only doing weddings for family and friends … because surely, weddings weren’t my thing.

Well folks, I was wrong … I was so wrong. I love weddings.  I love wedding photography.  I love capturing the day that a marriage begins. 

When I really think about it, I find it somewhat ironic that I was so opposed to focusing my business on weddings … because as those who have known me forever can attest, weddings are in my blood.  Growing up, we would summer at our family ranch in Nevada, and my mom and aunts would buy a few Brides magazines for the girls to peruse, daydream over, and select ‘our dress’ each year (and let me tell you, my bridal style circa 1994 was on point … lol).  Fast forward to high school, when I was dead-set on becoming a wedding coordinator after college, I even had several three-ring binders categorized by dress, bridesmaids, suits, venue, flowers, cakes, etc.  Think Pinterest boards before Pinterest was a thing … they were really something, and I will thank Jennifer Lopez and The Wedding Planner movie for my choice in careers :)  And then, after a chance meeting at Jason’s Deli (where my Southern peeps at?!) I got a part time job at an upscale bridal boutique in Shreveport, Louisiana that had me forehead deep in exquisite wedding gowns during my 4 years of college … I was in heaven.

Looking back, I now know that my issue was not that I didn’t like the idea of being a wedding photographer … but it was that I was scared to make the leap.  I was scared of failure.  I was scared that I wasn’t good enough. 

‘Fear is a thief, because fear robs you before you even begin.’ – Bryant McGill

Well, I’m not afraid anymore … do you hear me, I’m not afraid anymore!  (I was definitely having a Home Alone scene flash into my mind as I typed that.)  And I am ready to shout it from the rooftops, I am a wedding photographer!!

Does this mean I won’t take on families and newborns anymore?  Absolutely not, because as an artist I think it is important to push yourself outside your comfort zone every now and again … and I do love a good baby snuggle :)  I will just be limiting the number of those sessions I take on, as I grow my wedding photography business.

I am so excited for this new journey and I am beyond thrilled with my new website … and let me tell you, if my brand was a person, I would TOTALLY want to be her friend ;)  So thank you Megan at Letterform … you have helped me more than I could ever quantify, not only did you create a kick-tush brand and gorgeous website; but you gave me back my confidence, you helped my find my voice, you showed me that I am good enough.

And thank YOU to my tribe.  My family, my friends, my clients … for coming with me on my business journey, I would love for you to stick around to see where the road leads … I promise it will include lots of laughs, lots of adventure, and lots of love.

xo, Jessie