Let’s Get Honest + $50 RPL Coupon

We love real. We love honest.  And we really love a few blog posts we have run across lately from some of our favorite photographers as they get really honest.

Unless you live under a rock you have read or seen mentioned Yan Photography‘s Sick of It blog post.  The reason it went viral is because it hit home for oh so many photographers out there.  So many one woman shows who are also moms and wives and trying to do it all.   (just like me and Tory — photographers, bloggers, moms, wives and all that goes along with it).

I love all of Yan’s post but this part leaped out to me:

“its not that i don’t want to sound fancy. and its not that i hate those of you out there who are doing exactly what i just described in the paragraph above. its just that i’m tired. i’m so so so so tired. i’ve always prided myself on being a real person, who engages in real conversation, with other similarly sincere people. and to tell you , to even imply, that i’m sitting pretty over here, raking it in with inquiries, and clients, and money money money, and all things related to success….

would be a




because we, ahem, at yan photography are struggling. and we are waiting for our phone to ring, and we are doing everyhing we can think of to get our name out there in a new market and a new state, and we are still only averaging about one freaking inquiry a week. to which we promptly get the response that we are too expensive.

and you know what i want to tell people? that behind that we is a me. a woman. a mother of three, with a husband in grad school. pinching and compromising to make ends meet. who can’t afford to put her daughters in dance, or piano lessons, or the gosh darn school play which cost $250 (WHAT THE CRAP, RIGHT?!!!). a me who’s bills are piling up so high, she feels overwhelmed and tearful every second of every day.

i want to tell them that i’ve worked hard at this. that i’m good. that i’m different. that i see beauty in the mundane, and can distill delicacy from the clumsy movements of a toddler with the way i wield my lens. i want to yell, look at me! notice me! i’m here, and i’ll be a crazy good time on your wedding day, not to mention provide you with pictures that will make you cry as they remind you over and over again, what is good and real and important in life.


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And its not just Yan who is tired.

Its Tara Whitney too.

And if its them, its many others too.  Doesn’t what Tara say sound familiar:

“I feel like I have been running with my head down for the last four months. Running to clients, running to pick up kids, running to drop off kids, running to make lunch, running to a teacher meeting, running to buy birthday party supplies, running to get my camera fixed, running to make dinner, running to the doctor, running to visit a friend, running to behavioral therapy for Mckenna, running to the airport, running home, running to the bank, running to a school function, running to the store for more toilet paper…just running, running, running.

And I want to stop.

And I want to catch my breath.

The last few days while sick in bed, I took a cold hard look at my life, and it has suffered. I have gained weight. We are eating out too much. I am not writing. I have not done any of the projects I wanted to do. We aren’t spending enough time putting energy and thought into our lives. We are just making it.

I honestly don’t know how everyone else does it. I look around and it seems like everyone else is working their asses off, making home cooked meals for their kids, redecorating their homes, redesigning websites, setting up shops, chasing their dreams, losing weight, running marathons, taking quick trips, going on dates, building tree forts, learning to kickbox….and I am just watching it all whiz by in awe while clutching my six year old branding and sage green walls and child bearing hips.

I want to spend some time on myself. I want to get this house in order. I want to take bags upon bags upon bags to Goodwill. I want to stop holding onto things for my perfect house and someday. I want to get my branding finished, (I LOVE IT), and get my new websites created. I want to spend time making healthy food. I want my body to work better. I want to learn how to do new things. I want to take my kids to the park. I want to take pictures of us. Do you know that I took a shockingly low number of pictures of my own family this year? I hate that.”

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Its my belief that these gals honesty is only going to serve them well.  I would hire either in an instant. Why?  Their photography of course. Both are super talented. But also, they are REAL.  Real people. Someone who is not perfect. Someone I could be friends with.  Someone I like.

Because face it, I am not perfect either.  Not even close.  I have a husband who doesn’t want me on the computer at night, and four kids who need everything from rides to the mall to homework help to hugs and kisses and boy advice.  I have laundry.. an insane amount of laundry.  And clients, and readers (thank you), and school projects and swim meets.  Its not easy.

Get honest with us.  Tell us if these posts resonated with you and why.  Use our handy dandy new facebook comment button to do it or leave a comment the regular way and share this post on your facebook or your twitter.  Leave a comment this week and you are entered to win $50 Coupon with Richard Photo Lab to help offset the costs of this and that.


  • Deidre Caswell says:

    I read Yan’s post last week, and felt like she was speaking to me! I decided to go into business full time 3 years ago and it’s been a rough time for sure. I hear how its too expensive constantly, but I know I’m so worth it!

  • Misty says:

    I can relate so much to each post, when I originally read them I felt like they had looked at my life before writing them. We just moved and my husband just got out of the military so we’re starting over with new responsibilities. I feel like Yan that whenever I get an inquiry I usually hear back I’m too expensive and I want to tell them I can’t afford to be cheaper, I have worked too hard and long and this isn’t just a side thing it’s what I’m trying to do to support our family. I feel defeated and frustrated at times and like Tara I feel like I just need to take a break and breath. I’m so thankful for what they both wrote, it’s nice to know I’m not alone (even though I wish none of us were going through this)

  • This hits home. Big time. Tara was the first photographer I started following back when I got my first SLR in 2009. I was beyond in love with her, and her work. It’s crazy to think that as I’ve struggled to launch my own business, the “pros” out their are struggling too.

  • oh. oh. oh. this is so beautiful. and it resonates with me as much as the entry Jonas Peterson wrote on his site – “the mason Jar manifesto” I think it was called. there is a competitive edge to this world of photography – maybe made worse or better I dont know …but by the fact that alot of us are woman – and woman could always do with being a little kinder to each other, to themselves…….like its ok to say you are having a hard time keeping up with everything at home….its ok to admit you are not superwoman….and are having a hard time growing and managing your business. it truly is ok. we are after all. just human. what a wonderful courageous woman.

  • Ashley says:

    its both shocking and a relief to discover that people who impress you every day are struggling with the same issues & struggles are.

  • For the past few years, I have been reading other photographer’s posts and wondering what I am doing wrong. I am working harder than ever, but have seemed to be stuck in a rut, looking for the magic that seems to be present in everyone’s business but mine. It is nice to know that everyone has their ups along with their downs, we are all human, doing our very best and having struggles trying to chase our dreams. Although I hate seeing that others are struggling, I have to say thank you for the honesty it was a refreshing change.

  • Hannah Mayo says:

    Resonated is an understatement. When I first read Yan’s post, I was just so grateful that other people- especially a person as freakin talented as she is- feels this way. Because I have struggled too. I have been “hoping things pick up” and feeling like I’m still just starting out for the last couple years. Feeling like I have to pretend to be super successful and busy all the time so people don’t think I’m a fake. Yep, I get it, and it is so refreshing to see some honesty about it.

  • Amanda B says:

    Yep. I posted a similar something a few days ago too. I think it’s a feeling across the board when it comes to being moms/artists. We had these identities as creative souls before we became wives and mothers, and it’s hard to turn them off, or at least turn them down. We see other photographers who seem to have it all together, have tons of FB fans, beautiful blog posts and somehow that becomes the mark of what “success” looks like. So, I’ve personally decided that 2012 will be the year of photographing for me–because it’s what I love. I’m going to learn to shoot film; I’m going to learn food photography; I’m going to take lots and lots of pictures of my own kids. Because at the end of the day, I’m a wife and mother first. Photography is just a beautiful compliment to those things.

  • Oh yes – I hear this! It’s easy neglect that you’re a wife and a Mum too when you have a business to run and wages to earn and I need to make those 2 a priority… so although it makes me sad that people whose work I admire go through this too – I also find it reassuring to know it’s not just me…

  • Love this post. Very real and inspiring.

  • Katie Smith says:

    Yan’s post hit home for me. I’m also waiting for the phone to ring and pinching pennies to make ends meet. Wishing my photography could support putting my oldest in karate and my youngest in some kind of social enviroment. Instead it’s us, sitting at home, kids playing while Mommy tries not to sound desperate on her Facebook business page and pours herself into every marketing blog out there.

    Sometimes I wish I was busy like Tara but I’d honestly just love to find that happy middle ground where I’m not wishing for an inquiry to hit my email because I need some extra month this month.

  • Tara always writes what’s in my head. Always. I think sometimes she’s come into my dreams and stolen what I wish I was talented enough to get down on paper (or a blog). And Yan, well, Yan stripped it down to the bare bones and made us all take a hard look at how we want to be seen as a person…I want my clients to know me, that this facade that I think they want to see instead.

    I’m working all the time. I shoot, I edit, I blog, I clean my house, I make dinner.every.night., I play with my kids (not nearly enough), I try to be a good wife – a great wife. I want to do everything I pin on Pinterest (pinning usually done while sneaking five minutes in the bathroom for alone time…lol).

    Every other month I take on a “their world” project. Capturing my kids as they are every day for the month – I wish, with all my heart, that I could do it every day of the year. And maybe someday when I master it all, I’ll be able to. But for now, I am grateful that I have more pictures of them in those months than I would have had. That I’ve captured little moments that are all too soon forgotten. That my boys will know we did everything were could as parents to fill their lives with joy.

    I’m not the best at anything I do. And frankly, being the best isn’t something I’m longing to be. I just want to know that my family has enough. Enough to eat. Enough to wear. Enough to be thankful for. Enough of me.

  • mary says:

    reading someone’s ‘real’ words, words that you can relate to rather than feeling like a failure, makes all the difference. we try and we try…sometimes things work well, sometimes it’s like magic and sometimes it just sucks. that’s ok. we are human. thanks for keepin’ it real.

  • Ketti says:

    I could have written either of those posts myself. I am drowning – too busy to even catch up and fix things.

  • em says:

    I totally relate to the running. Running everywhere and life just flying without me stopping to focus on what is really going to make my soul sing. I want to make time to write more and live better. Love both of these posts.

  • Josh says:

    I can completely relate to these posts…but I come at it from a different perspective. I am a husband, a father, and the sole provider for my family. I am blessed to get to do what I love for a living. I am blessed to be able to work from home, pick my kids up from school, help with homework and school projects, to go on field trips, to be intimately involved in my kids’ lives. I wouldn’t go back to a day job for all the money in the world.

    That said, it’s tough. It’s tough knowing that if my phone doesn’t ring we don’t eat. Knowing that while some clients may seem less than an ideal fit for me, my kids need to go to the dentist and my wife’s car needs new tires. It’s tough having to pay a premium for private health insurance when we have baby number four due in a few short weeks. Balancing artistic integrity and vision with business reality is tough, even excruciating at times.

    As stressful as it can be at times, those 15 minutes I spend walking my kids home from school keeps me grounded. Listening to them recall all of the things they did and learned that day, hearing their dreams about tomorrow, and seeing their beaming faces when they see me there waiting…these are things that motivate me. I push through the frustration and fear because of them. Because of the tennis lessons, soccer practices, and school plays. Because they want to read bedtime stories to ME. And when I look at the photographs of them that line our walls and mantle, it makes it all clear…I do what I do so I can provide the same priceless memories to other couples and families.

    It’s tough, but I wouldn’t trade my life for the world.

  • Dawn says:

    I cried reading both of these posts because they are my life. I’m so busy and my soul is so tired. My kids are growing up while I’m shooting or behind the laptop and I feel like if I take the time to spend with them, my clients start getting antsy. It’s a vicious cycle. Though I love what I do, I’d love to rest my soul for a bit.

  • Paige Smith says:

    I’m with Yan on this one. Despite honest efforts and lots of trying, I’m still patiently waiting for that phone to ring. My husband’s out of work for the time being and we’re just hoping we can scrape by. It’s hard. Really hard. But BOY do I appreciate honesty. Especially from those you look up to. Thank you, girls, for being real. 🙂

  • maggie says:

    I can totally relate. I have been going back and forth for a while now deciding what I want to do with my art and business and just life in general. I even wrote about how much I felt like I have failed at some things while chasing others that may not even be for me. It is definitely heartwarming to see that I am not alone! 🙂

  • Chaia says:

    I’m a starting out photographer trying to make things work myself, so I can’t imagine how hard it must be for the pros who have been in it for years. My applause to them. Im doing it as a second job while working full time and going to school too. So this was a good wake up call, to be thankful.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • toni raper says:

    RPL voucher …awesome I’m in. I Fedex film to them from Australia and it is exxy. I worship Yan & Tara at the moment for having the guts to speak out. I read Tara’s weeks ago and it resonated with me very much. I feel that way too and I only shoot for myself so minus the clients. Thanks to you gals at Dress themselves too, your blog supports and applauds and encourages everything REAL.

  • Lindsey says:

    I LOVED reading both Tara and Yan’s recent blogs….I remember reading them both outloud to my husband. Their honesty I think hit us all and I for one am grateful somebody finally had the guts to come out and say that “being a photographer” isn’t all its cracked up to be. We all have piles of laundry, and pounds, and are exhausted of explaining why we are worth it to everyone…even ourselves. I think that is what kills me the most. I know I am worth what I charge. But when I am struggling to get clients, I look at it all and I think…what gives? Am I that bad or that out of touch with everything? I hate how it all shakes my confidence.
    I have to be honest again…I am not “making” it at photography. But what I am doing…is getting all the photographs of my own children. I just wish that would be enough for me sometimes without the pressure that I feel. That I think all women who run businesses feel. That we need to be rocking it as mothers, wives, and photographers. I have to agree with Melissa…while it would be great to be amazing at everything…I finding my way this year to where I only want what is enough. Enough for my family to be okay and happy and taking those photos that I LOVE of my babies.

  • Marla says:

    Maybe, just maybe, if we all stop acting like we have everything together b/c we’re just too embarrased/frustrated/shy to admit that we don’t, then MAYBE we could all realize that we aren’t all so different & then this perception that we (as women) can do everything and be amazing at everything will go away and we can all be real with each other! Whew . . . see, run-on sentence there and I’m not going to edit it! Perfection is so overrated . . .

    • Wendy says:

      This post really struck home with lots of women photographers. Maybe men too but we don’t hear from them as much. I agree with all these comments. Thank you everyone for sharing.

  • rachaelmarie says:

    two of my favorite photographers…their honesty is inspiring + leaves me feeling humbled.

  • Birgit says:

    Oh! Thank you so much for this post! It describes MY life and my situation… All the running, struggling and then competing with childless photographers or photographers with no money issues (and therefore lots of babysitters) ….. BUT: I’ve been thinking a lot about this and my ONLY solution is this: (Although I wanted to completely stop Facebook & Co I must admit that I can’t because I love it) I’m getting more and more picky and selective who I interact with and who’s news feeds and blogs I’m reading. My favorite quote is: DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO ANYONE, YOU’RE ONLY COMPARING YOUR WORST TO THEIR BEST. I’m sending out love to all of you struggling. Yan, Tara, Wendy – I love you for being real and honest.

  • Elizabeth says:

    What Yan and Tara said is so true – but it’s true of any working Mom in my opinion. I have a “regular” job – I get up at 5.30am, start work at 7am, leave at 4.30pm (no breaks for lunch) to collect the children at 5.30pm. I have to do this (and often work at home later in the evening) to keep up with all the people who either don’t have kids (and can therefore work however long they want) or the men whose wives stay at home. When I get home, I start my second job of washing, cooking, tidying, sorting, fixing, paperwork, etc. I’ve usually finished everything by 9-10pm. We need both incomes to stay afloat, but I’m exhausted. By the kids bedtime, I’m completely done in. The only saving grace is that weekends are my own, so for two days, I more or less belong to the children and we do what they want. I beat myself up all the time because I feel like I’m not doing a great job of anything – at work or at home. Did anyone else ever imagine that it would be THIS hard? Thanks for the honesty guys.

  • Britty says:

    I love how real and honest they are. I think this will really hit home for a lot of photographers… I know it does with me.

  • Lindsay says:

    I don’t have kids yet, but I already feel this way. I can imagine that when I have little ones running around, these feelings will only be magnified. I feel inspired and discouraged at the same time when I hear that others are struggling too. (shared on Facebook)

  • mariana says:

    Tara’s words resonated a lot with me… it’s good to read that there’s more people wondering the same. There must be something better than running everywhere and all the time. Balance must be possible… it’s a hope. It’s relieving. Whew! now, to run off to find it…

  • Laura Reaux says:

    So refreshing, this honesty. I love that I’m seeing more of it. I admire both of my friends, Tara and Yan, AND you and Tory… all of us who are living this crazy life between family and work and our own selves. It’s great to feel understood for a change. Isn’t it? Shared. 🙂

  • Magen Smith says:

    I am not a photographer, I am a CPA (and a fan of Laura Reaux), but I struggle with people seeing the value in what I do as well. There is a community of CPAs that I am a part of that believe in value pricing things. If you customers think you are too expensive, give them a slower turnaround time, less options, only online, etc. with the cheaper price. It is a great thing if you can set 3 options of packages for people to choose from so that people who don’t value you can highly can still get great work, just without the bells and whistles. Focus on your ideal customers and enhance the value that they are receiving from you by giving a faster turnaround, your own opinion as to how the pictures are looking, etc. Keep your head up ladies. I am a mom too that is building a business with two small children hanging onto me.

  • Josh says:

    It was very refreshing to hear honesty and openness from peers in the industry. I think it is something that we all struggle with as there can seem to be such a delicate balance of what some view as too much when it comes to business. I believe though that we are at a time when while some might criticize us for being open or sharing personal things, on the flip side there is a group of people that are longing to share their hearts and have us tell their stories and they rejoice at this openness! Tara & Yan thank you & I applaud you for writing what you did. It might not be for some but it has definitely resonated with a good many!

  • Shari Hanson says:

    this post totally hit home. i am constantly surprised by the struggles we moms/wives/photographers/business owners etc. have in common. it’s so easy to feel like YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE. not that it makes me feel better to know that others are struggling, but it actually gives me hope when people get down and dirty and SPEAK THEIR MIND even if it isn’t pretty. that is real.life. to me at least. 🙂

  • ajira says:

    oh my god, yes. Yes to tired and yes to honesty. Love the frankness because it helps me feel less alone in my exhaustion and scrambling and fierce fight to do what I love not only because I want to support my family but also because this feeds my soul and I want to model something important to my kid(s).

  • Danica says:

    Honesty on blogs is what makes us love the bloggers even when we’ve never met them, but I never ever thought I’d see a photographer, a woman who runs her own business, be SO honest! I feel like saying “I am not getting enough clients” is THE taboo topic for a small business person, who is seemingly wildly successful from the outside. I APPLAUD YOU WILDLY for your honesty! There are so many of us who feel exactly the same, myself included. The past week this has hit home hard for me! I just moved into my slow season for the year, yet for some reason I’ve had more inquiries than usual – all without bookings. It seems like I’m pulling teeth to get someone to book me even when I try to give away free sessions! I know that I’m worth it. It’s hard to realize that others done seem to know that. I’m glad that we can all rest knowing that we are not the only ones. I’m not sure that it solves anything but it sure brings a little peace of mind.

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