New small town, my business and the "ex-boss"

So I am at a pretty serious point in my life as a photographer. At least I think so. I’m doing way less weddings because I’ve chosen to for so many reasons. A few being that I just don’t have the time or energy these days to shoot a 10-hour wedding day, put up with some nasty attitudes that make my day go sour (please tell me, why are so many people, guests especially, disrespectful of the photographers?), and then take about 20-30 hours proofing, graphically correcting, and designing wedding albums for these clients. All big chunks of time taken away from my family. It’s just too hard for me right now. But I love doing weddings, especially ones with laid back happy brides and grooms who make the day easy and fun for me. I do love it. Just not 20 a year. I’m down to about 5 now and all 5 are booked up for next year. I so love the thought of just having FIVE. (However, I know I'm setting myself up for a hard time telling prospective clients 'no'.)

My photography draw lately has been maternity, newborns and children. My passion is really blossoming in these sorts of photographs. I love it. I love capturing phases of these little people’s lives. I love capturing moments that most people don’t want to wait around and shoot on their own. I love those perfect priceless moments that can’t be reenacted especially at places like Sears, JC Penny's and Wal-Mart. And seriously, I'm not saying that in a bad way, just that retail chains like these can't go on-location and see through the lens of a camera what I get to see. I love what I do.

So Leann called me this morning. I may have the opportunity to work with a woman here in town who is big stuff. She’s pregnant, due any day, and she loves my work. She wants me to shoot her maternity pictures (soon!), her birth, and then pictures of the baby after it’s born. Her problem is, she works closely with a guy . . . another photographer here in town . . . the same photographer I use to work for. The same photographer that I walked out on and never came back to. My ex-boss. Yikes. Yup. Kinda puts me in a weird spot.

She wants these kinds of pictures . . . maternity and birth . . . but doesn’t feel comfortable with ‘him’ doing them. I understand that completely! That’s one of the huge benefits I have being female and having the love of shooting these kinds of photos. I am proud to be a woman, oh yes I am! I’m so glad ‘he’s’ a man, oh yes I am!!

This woman owns a very nice restaurant in our town. One that people come near and far to have a nice white table-cloth, steak and red wine dinner (they are also a martini bar). She also caters to a nearby super nice and well-established wedding/reception site. And she also works very closely with my ex-boss at this location. That’s the kicker.

However, she suddenly wants me. Me.

Tomorrow night, Leann and I are having dinner with her at her place. (Kinda hoping to get a martini "on the house".) We’re going to discuss my work and I have to come prepared with pricing. I want to show up with a really fab brochure. One that I don’t have right now because I haven’t put one together yet for this type of work. Besides, my address and contact info has all changed. My price sheets even have to be revamped.

I am freaking excited about this. But very very nervous also.

I am so nervous because ‘ex-boss’ is going to definitely know about me now. I’ve tried to keep low profile because I’m kinda scared of him finding out about me. I know that he knows that I am shooting on my own now, but I am not sure he knows now that I am in his town where I once worked. I’m not sure he knows that I live just literally 5 minutes away from his home and his studio. Can you tell that we didn’t part on the best terms? He’s a good guy, he really is, but he didn’t have the best manners or moral values. I am not trying to be judgemental at all. I just know what I saw and it put a really bad taste in my mouth. And I couldn’t work in that sort of environment any longer regardless of his intentions.

‘Ex-boss’ is also probably going to be see my pricing. He’s going to know who I market to and what kind of deals I have (/don’t have). He’s going to probably come to my VWC blog site, and he’ll probably find my website. All this makes me even more excited and thrilled about being here and venturing out into new things like I am, and excited to finally, finally, get my new website up.

But it also makes me really nervous.

I’m not one to deal with criticism well. I’m not one to deal with ‘people talking’. I’m not one who can take confrontation. I have absolutely no idea what I’d do if I saw him. Wait, yes I do. I’d probably run and hide. Oh my goodness, it makes my heart just race thinking about it! Why do I let people and things get to me like this? See, that’s my other problem. I don't have a backbone. (Erin, I can so related to your recent post!)

So, I’m nervous. Very nervous. I don’t think this potential client will pull herself completely away from ‘ex-boss’ because Leann tells me they are friends. But this could still be huge (HUGE!) for me. It’s what I’ve been wanting for a long long time. But I’m really scared, nervous, and starting to feel a bit stressed knowing that I have to come up with a really kick-butt brochure in the next 36 hours.

Think of me, please. And cross your fingers that I say the right things tomorrow night and present her with a brochure that she just can’t say no to.

If you made it to the bottom of this, I thank you. I really just needed to “talk it out”, so thanks for “listening”. Oh the joys of being a business-owner, spineless, (fairly) young woman in a new town! Woo-hoo.

{Speaking of . . . tomorrow morning I photograph my first ever twin clients! They are a boy and girl 1 month-old twin cuties. Also their big brother. I'm excited. Hopefully that will put me in the mood and inspire me to have an even better dinner Friday night with 'prospective client'! Wish me luck!}


Mrs. M said...

I'm fairly "spineless" too. I can't stand up to people and I avoid confrontation, especially with people who I think will be mean and make me cry.

Good luck! I hope this works out great for you!

MP said...

I'm don't have a backbone either..maybe that's why we write, easier than face to face.. :-)

If she wants you it's cause you are good and it helps that you are a woman!

Screw him! Free world, free commerce. You have a rite to make a living doing whatever God gave you the talent to do!


Hope that helped a little ;-)

Michelle said...

Good luck with everything! I know you will do awesome!! :)


ErinFiat said...

I was writing to wish you the best of luck, but I know you don't need luck. Your work is beautiful and you are awesome! :)

Oh and I love your blog. :)

it's me, Val said...

Awww, thanks, Erin. I miss you and everyone else (well, most of them - ha!) from SN so much. Thank you for stopping by and thank you a million times over for the encouragement. Means a lot.

Jo said...

My dad always told me that nothing worth while comes easy. Know that this being hard for you, just means greater rewards in the end! I'll be thinking of you!

Stacey said...

Your enthusiasm for your art is clear, you will capture hundreds upon hundreds of special moments like few can. Have fun with those darling babies! xoxo

Chel said...

I loathe confrontation, but I do know that sometimes it can be valuable. You need to remember that this gentleman doesn't have exclusive rights to the market. You are every bit as entitled to work in the same area in the same field and to inspire the same clients. Don't be intimidated by him.

Jennifer said...

Val, don't worry about things you have no control, leave these to the Good Lord ....second don't worry about things that haven't even took place yet..everything will be fine!! You worried and worried about a wedding sometime back because that "nasty PERSON" was going to be there, and you did all the worring for NOTHING! Everything went fine. Hold your head up HIGH and be proud of what you and your business has become....he doesn't even think about what happen several yrs. ago anyhow, I can beat ya. If he owns a business, he know how a business is...doddy dog world! I'm sure things will be very different!

Let me know how things go

..and where are the HOUSE pictures??

love ya girly!

Alexis Jacobs said...

Val you will do AWESOME tomorrow. As far as the "ex", that is all out of your hands. And know no matter what he thinks or says, you are an awesome photographer and your gift is to do exactly what you do.

And you know, if you need help crafting the perfect wording for your super duper awesome new site or brochures, I know a PERFECT writer. :)

SuperMom said...

Good luck tonight!!!

Erin said...

Val, you're going to kick butt!!! You have your own giftings and talents and you are SOOOO good at what you do! I have total faith in you that when it comes down to the meeting, as nervous as you are, your charming personality and awesome work will speak for themselves and you'll be great!

a wandering heart said...

you are going to do great! If I were having my pregnancy and birthing experience photographed, I would prefer a woman, too. It sounds like this Mom-to-be has very high standards and knows what she wants in a lot of areas. And you are just the woman for the job!!!!!

Like others have said, you have no control over ex-boss's potential reaction. You will be the professional artist that you are, striving for excellence in your work and serving your customers well.

Have a great meeting tonight!


Louise said...

Val- by now your meeting is probably over and I hope that everything went well!! You are SO incredibly gifted and talented and that stands for itself!!
If you lived closer I would SO get you to take pictures of my kids...man I would LOVE that!! can you fly up here and do that?? LOL
Seriously girl you are gifted..never doubt that!! as for your boss...he'll get over it!!

lil ole' me..... said...

Val, I so wish I would have read this and posted before your meeting! From your other post, sounds like it went really well.

As far as the "ex" boss thing goes, I know that you will handle any situation with the upmost professionalism. If he has any problems, that is his deal.... you just be confident in your talent- because you are WONDERFUL!!!

Oh, and I am so glad that Keith and I got married when we did- before you cut back on the weddings that you photograph!!! :)
(and, yes, I still do want to order my wedding pictures... I will get around to it this year, I will!)

Cerella said...

Girl, I KNOW that everything will turn out good for you. Don't worry about him. Two things that I can remember off the top of my head about your "ex-boss" is that he mentioned bringing a cooler full of wine coolers and what not to my wedding for everyone after the ceremony to enjoy during the pics. Well, guess what....we were totally thinking that he was gonna do this and HE DIDN'T! So basically, we had nothing to sip on. Nice, huh? And, I asked him via email to please check into one of our engagement pics that I wanted to order for our adoption profile *expressing to him the urgency in this matter* and I've YET to hear from him. Whatever. You are the bomb. You know it. I know it. And HE knows it! Don't sweat it. :)