October 18, 2016

Life Lessons Learned from Being a Wedding Photographer

Lately, I’ve felt inspired to share a couple of personal growth moments and life lessons learned from being a wedding photographer.

This career, as well as my position as a small business owner, has taught me many valuable things and have shaped me into a stronger person with a better sense of self-worth. Today I’m sharing 5 realizations that I hope inspire you in your life!


1. My Time is Extremely Valuable

Before being a business owner, I never thought much about the value of my time. Now, I consider it to be the most valuable asset I have. Not only have I learned how to strategically schedule my days, I’ve also realized that there are mega time wasters that I now actively avoid.

For example, I no longer seek out coffee dates, meetings, and collaborative opportunities with people who have kept me waiting an excessive amount of time (think 30 minutes late with no apology). I save my time for people who value it as much as I value their time.

My time being valuable is one of the reasons I believe in outsourcing elements of my business like tax prep, graphic design, and any other aspect of my business that others can do better, faster, and more efficiently. It’s why I don’t DIY. I’d rather spend the money to have an expert do the work while I put my mind to other important tasks that only I can do to further grow my business.

Cavin Elizabeth wearing a black top with a pink and black skirt in Joshua Tree's Cholla Cactus Garden

2. Be Interesting by Being Interested in Them

It wasn’t long after I became a wedding photographer that I began reading Dale Carnegie. I’ve learned that in networking and discussions with potential and current brides, as well as new friends, that I need to demonstrate my genuine interest in them by asking questions and listening twice as much as I talk. This, in turn, makes me more interesting to them, which is just a bonus side effect.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who takes up more than 70% of the talking? Probably, and you likely didn’t find it to be the most enjoyable conversation. I’d rather focus on the other person by listening to them, learning more about them, and complimenting them whenever possible to make them feel awesome.

I make a true effort to learn people’s names, ask them progressively more meaningful questions, and truly get to know them by being interested in who they are. Doing this makes me more memorable in their minds and shows them that I’m not just here to talk about me, but rather to develop a long-lasting relationshis.

Cavin Elizabeth cutting into a cute one tier white cake by Sweet Cheeks Baking

3. Women Need Better Handshakes

My industry contains mostly women, so I happen to meet many business women each month through networking and weddings. One thing I’ve noticed is that many women consistently have a very soft, weak, and unimpressionable handshake.

Firm handshakes go a long way with first impressions and I often notice that a large majority of men exhibit a good job of doing so. So ladies, step it up a notch! Firmly shake people’s hands and establish yourself with more confidence and power.

San Diego Wedding Photographer joins the San Diego Wedding Collective
Image by Dima Karpenko

4. Organization Plays a Huge Role in Success

Sure, you can be one of the lucky few who are messy and super successful. I’ve found, however, that my level of organization and automated systems greatly reduce the feeling of overwhelm that many of my colleagues are always talking about.

I might have four weddings in one month, along with a few engagement sessions and meetings. All of this combined with my day-to-day operations doesn’t faze me.
Because I have incredible systems in place through software such as 17hats, Later, many spreadsheets, and an efficiently-scheduled calendar, I’m able to keep my head above water and avoid falling behind.


5. It’s Perfectly Acceptable to Say No

Growing up, I always said yes to everything, even if it heavily inconvenienced me. After starting my business and moving to San Diego, I continued the same pattern.

By saying yes to everything and everyone with their incredibly time-consuming requests, I began to resent myself. I realized that comprising my sanity and being a “yes man” drained me of my enthusiasm for photography and my personal life.

I’ve now learned to say no when I feel that something isn’t a good fit for me. It doesn’t mean I’m rude. It just means I can’t always do everything for everyone. I’m allowed the power to choose the opportunities and requests I take on in the best interest of myself and my business. Remember how valuable your time is? Don’t let others be life-taking. Look for relationships and opportunities that are life-giving, instead!

Doing so gives me the ability to be the kind of person I want to be, give the attention I wish to give to my current clients, and maintain the exact amount of time and fun that I want to dedicate to my personal life. I’m so much happier since realizing this and consider it to be one of my greatest points of personal growth in recent years!


Cavin Elizabeth Madam, Great Lessons for being Photographer. specially 5th no.