Convincing Your Spouse And Family To Support Your Photography Dreams

This post is Day 23 of 30 Ways In 30 Days To Redesign Your Life With Photography. This series seeks to provide you with practical steps to get you from wherever you are today, to exactly where you want to be – this year! If your goal has always been to take your photography to a whole new level, hang on and start enjoying a new lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of.

You’ve been dreaming of the day you tell your JOB goodbye, and work at photography full time to support your lifestyle. And while your dreams are real – you live, breathe and dream them every day – you tend to keep your dreams to yourself. Will your family support your decisions? Will your spouse accept your new goals?

One of the most difficult situations you can deal with is to start out in the entrepreneurial life, especially when no one around you has done it before.

“It’s too risky.”

“You’ll lose your benefits.”

“How will you survive without a paycheck?”

We heard them all when we made the break back in the 90’s.

Yet now, you have more support then ever behind you with the current economy. Does anyone truly believe a JOB is less risky at the moment? Will the JOB even be there one year from now? Even with all of that behind you, there are still things you can do to gain confidence, and to showcase your skills to those around you.

Set Up Your Plan

In many ways, the reason people throw negative questions at you is because they simply don’t understand what you are doing. They’ve always worked, relied on a JOB, and worried about salaries and benefits. Maybe they’ve shared their misery stories with you, and enjoy the same in return. What if they lose what they have in common?

With a little bit of planning, you can answer their questions.

“How are you going to make money?” they may say. You can respond by describing your plans to photograph 15 baby portraits each month, and how that will equal what you are currently making at your JOB.

“What about benefits?” they might ask. You can rely on things like COBRA for a while until your income is stable and you can take on a policy for your business.

It’s easy to anticipate what they might ask, because the questions become pretty standard and routine. By having an answer ready, it shows that you have thought it all out. It shows you are ready to take on the responsibility of a business, and do whatever it takes to make it work.

It also helps build your own confidence because you do know the answers. You can rely on yourself, no matter what.

Show Them What You Do

Chances are they know you love photography – you are the one that shows up with a camera to every family event. So show them along the way what you are doing and what you are planning. Instead of handing out family images, bring over a few photographs you took to use as samples. Or share with them the new brochure you just received from the printer.

When we first started our business, I would hand my mom several copies of my brochure. She would mail them to my grandmothers to show what we were up to. She started getting excited by what we were accomplishing, and it didn’t take her very long to realize we had potential. And she loved sharing it with the rest of the family. She quickly became one of our biggest fans.

We also held open houses in our studio once a year, and would invite the family. If your studio is in a commercial location, as ours was for a number of years, family usually didn’t make it through the doors. So invite them in. Show them your recent awards. Share with them your new presentation. Show them your sample albums.

You’ll quickly find their ideas and opinions change.

It’s Not Just The Family, Its My Spouse

“It’s not my family I’m concerned with, its my spouse. He just doesn’t understand how important this is to me. If I quit my job, we won’t be able to afford the car he wants, or take our annual summer vacation this year. He’s not willing to give all of that up so I can go down this new road.”

I understand. When you don’t have immediate support in your daily life, what are you supposed to do?

Realize everyone changes in different ways.

Are your JOBS really as secure as he thinks? Is there a chance one or both of you will be let go, or have a decrease in salary or benefits over the next year?

If he really stops to think about it, he should realize that nothing is safe any more. The only safety net you have is if you create it yourself. Show him with the numbers how you can quickly get back on track, and make what you currently are making in salary. Also show him how quickly you can go beyond today’s salary, and make a whole lot more.

Then take it slow. Don’t start out full time, start out part time. Share the successes along the way.

Also share with him stories of other photographers around you that are doing what you want to do, and are making a good living at it.

Bring him with you to a convention or two so he can see what other photographers are up to. WPPI is coming up February 17th in Las Vegas, and its very reasonably priced. Chances are he won’t turn down a trip to Las Vegas. You can spend some quality time together AND learn amazing things that will help you grow your business. He may even get a little excited when he sees the potential – and its hard not to as you wonder through the trade show floor, and see some of the successes other photographers are having.

Be Patient

It can be a big decision to go into business for yourself. While its something you’ve always dreamed of doing, those around you haven’t shared that dream. They “like” working for a living, and can’t see it any other way.

I once had a long conversation with an acquaintance who couldn’t understand why I liked owning my own business. She didn’t understand how to come up with ideas. She didn’t have a passion for trying something new, and expanding waaayyyyy beyond your comfort level. She just wanted security. She wanted a paycheck on Friday, no change in her life, and no added stress.

If they don’t “get it”, you can’t make them “get it” in one sitting. You can’t describe your passion and have them instantly get excited for you. They are uncomfortable because you are changing the way they’ve always thought, and they aren’t happy about it.

But that doesn’t mean you have to give up your dreams. Just realize that they won’t be your support system as you move forward. That doesn’t mean you have to ignore them, or quit visiting them on a regular basis. It simply means you don’t discuss your plans with them. If they ask questions, keep it short and sweet. Tell them a little about your successes, share a photograph or two, and move on to a different subject.

They may open up about your choices, and they may not. But if you listen to them and argue your point with them, you’ll both leave feeling frustrated.

Instead, find someone you can share with, and that does support you. They will help you build towards the future, and be there to share your failures and successes, and help you build on what you learn.

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