We are excited to continue an ongoing series of Day in the Life Features from some of our fabulous contributors. These blog posts will take you through an average day of some of the top photographers in the industry.
Today we are pleased to feature Shannon Griffin. Enjoy ~
7:00 am: “When I wake up, well I know I’m gonna be I’m gonna be the man who wakes up next to you”. A cover of this song has been on repeat in my head since I photographed a wedding two weeks ago and this was their first dance. I cried like a baby, as I do at most weddings. Anyway, this is the time I usually hear my alarm going off.
7:15 am: I have finally hit snooze enough times that I feel lazy and decide to finally open my eyes. The very first thing I do is turn the alarm off and open up my emails on my phone. I check them FIRST thing when I wake up. I want to make sure that I answer client emails as soon as possible and see if any of my favorite stores are having any sales. Then I get out of bed.
7:20 am: This is one of the best parts of my day. This is when my French press becomes my best friend. I put the kettle on the stove and let my dog, Lola outside. While waiting for my water to boil, I open up my emails on my computer. This is the time that I also look over my to-do list (which can be on a piece of paper, in my head, or in “notes” on my phone. I know that there are apps for this kind of thing, but I keep it old school. I’m one of those people (this drives my husband crazy) who has a desk full of papers, contracts, checks, water cups--just complete chaos. Yet, I know where everything is.
7:30 am: My kettle is whistling at me. As I run in the kitchen, my dog runs with me and tries to bite at my feet. She hates the sound the kettle makes. This is also the time that I’m freshly grinding coffee beans and we LOVE that sound! The smell takes over me and I know it will only be a few more minutes I take my first sip of the day. I could use a drip coffee pot, but I love the process. I love how many steps it takes and the effort I have to put into getting that perfect cup of fresh coffee. As cheesy as it sounds, this is the approach I take with my business. I know I could take shortcuts and just shoot and burn, shoot and burn. I know that I could easily shoot all digital. But, I love winding film in my camera. I love the smell of the film and the click of the shutter release button. I also love helping my clients pick out beautiful prints and albums for their homes. I want my clients to have tangible memories in their hands, their kids’ hands, and even grandkids’ hands. This is so important to me and my brand.
7:40 am: “Okay, that French press has been sitting long enough, I can’t wait any longer”. I pour my coffee, quickly drink a protein shake, let the dog back in the house, and begin my workday.
My days vary. That’s the thing about owning your own business. You are your own driver, assistant, marketer, designer, errand-runner, accountant…the pressure is bountiful, but the payoff is even more so.
Today I have a bad cold and just got back from two sessions in California, followed by a redeye flight and a wedding in New Jersey. Who has time to be sick?
8:00 am: I still have two sample albums that I need to order, as well as pick out the colors for the presentation box for some gorgeous matted prints. This stresses me out beyond belief because it’s so hard for me to make these decisions. When I’m helping a client it comes so naturally. “Well, most of the colors in your wedding were a ‘misty blue’ so I think we should go with that color box and a light grey ribbon…” Sure, no problem. But, when I have to pick something out for myself for samples it can take me hours. I want it to be perfect. I want future clients to see it and imagine it in their homes.
I also know that I need to get film from my three last shoots over to FedEx, as well as edit two weddings and two boudoir sessions. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed today, so I put everything in order of what needs to be completed first.
9:00 am: The coffee hits and I run upstairs. By the bed I see a full suitcase that needs to be unpacked, clean clothes piled on a bedside table, and a dog being neglected. All of that is going to have to wait, but I do cuddle Lola for a few minutes before going back downstairs. I do this a few times a day. It calms me. I also give my plants a bath. This is the longest I have ever kept a plant alive, so I pay very close attention to them.
9:10 am: I return to making samples. I also start to think about what photo I can post on Instagram. I like to post early in the morning because most of my followers are on the East Coast and that’s when I’ll get the most activity on my feed. We have to think of these things in Photography Land! I post the photo and then go back to my business of making samples.
11:00 am: I am finally finished and have ordered my samples. Yes, it took me that long and to be completely honest, I had actually started on this the day before.
11-11:15 am: I check my emails. I check these all throughout the day, as soon as they come in. I also get a little Candy Crush game or two in the mix. Not to mention, I’ve usually got Netflix playing to the side of my screen if I’m designing or editing. I think I’ve watched “Sleepless in Seattle” about 50 times.
11:30 am: My coffee has warn off and I’m getting hungry. But, before I eat I need to run my film to FedEx. I’ll just eat when I get back.
12:00 pm: I’m back from FedEx and I make myself something to eat. Don’t get too excited, I’m usually not cooking up anything fancy. The kitchen is not my favorite place to be and I am definitely no Suzy Homemaker. The rolls for women in America have changed so much and I love that I get to own my own business and that I have a husband who respects that.
12:15 pm: I’m eating at my computer, after letting the dog out again. Letting Lola out is a constant thing because she knows that there are squirrels out there, just waiting to take over her house. She can never rest.
12:20 pm: I open up Lightroom and begin to cull through the session that took place first. I always edit in order, as I feel that is what’s most fair to my clients.
1:30 pm: I’m still editing that session, or the next, but I definitely need a snack. I am a constant snacker, especially when working from home. Oh, I also haven’t even brushed my teeth or changed out of my pj’s. I know, my life is glamorous.
2:30 pm: I’m usually either editing or shaming myself for going another day without blogging. I definitely don’t get around to blogging as much as I should. My reminder on my phone is usually popping up, at some point, reminding me of a potential client call or a call with a bride/groom needing to go over a timeline. This is also about the time that I work on contracts that need to get back to clients and deposit checks. I make sure to take out all of my costs and taxes and put it in an Excel sheet.
3:30 pm: I’m reaching out to vendors, letting them know I’ll be in their area and would love to meet with them. I recently made some post cards and have been sending them after vendor meetings.
Constantly networking with other creatives is something I have to force myself to do regularly. It’s something that doesn’t come naturally to me because I’m such an introvert. The funny thing is, when I meet with other vendors I get such a high. It reminds me why I love what I do. Getting to know other people in this crazy industry who are making a living doing what there are passionate about is inspiring. Having a community, especially when I work from home, is vital to my professional, mental, and spiritual health.
4:00 pm: I have checked Facebook about five times by this point. I’m checking second shooter and referral groups. I have to be on top of it because everyone is looking for more work. Lola is by my side the entire time I work.
4:15 pm: Thomas, my husband, calls and lets me know around what time he will be home. We both travel so much for our jobs and having a solid home base has been crucial for our marriage. We both support each other 100% and push each other to work harder and be better. He is a huge reason as to why I am successful.
4:20 pm: I hang up with this devilishly handsome husband of mine. Back to work. I’m probably back to editing since it’s wedding season.
5:30 pm: Thomas is usually home by this point (if he is in town) and we talk for a little bit and catch up and then I go back to my computer. This is another timeslot that I use to talk to potential clients. Most people have to work until around this time, so I take later calls all the time. I’m also mostly a destination photographer, so sometimes I take calls at 10pm, because my clients are on West Coast time. My calls with potential clients usually last about an hour. I still always get nervous because I just want them to like me. It’s such a personal thing, hiring a photographer, and I want them to be comfortable with me. When it comes to the day that I photograph them, I want to capture them at their most vulnerable. In order to do that, they have to trust me.
6:30 pm: It’s time to start thinking about what soup I’m going to heat up or where Thomas and I are going to grab food. We eat out a lot because we are both so busy during the day. I might have a glass of wine around this time. If I do cook, I usually have music blasting and I’m dancing around like a fool.
7:30 pm: I will usually come back and work a little longer. I wrap up what I was editing, album design, emailing clients, timelines, getting my brochure over to the person I just had a consult with, etc.
8:30/9 pm: This is usually about the time I wrap up for the day. I still check my emails until I go to bed. I usually shower at this point (I know, I’m gross), and unpack or watch some T.V. on the couch with Thomas. This is my unwind time. There are some nights where I don’t get that time, especially during wedding season. I’m usually up late checking my gear, charging batteries, packing to fly out the next morning, figuring out how much film I need to order, or a million other business related things.
There is a saying in photography (and I’m sure most small businesses) that goes something like, “I gave up my 9 to 5 for a 24/7”. I have never worked as hard as I work owning my own photography business, but I have also never been this happy. It really does something for my soul when I am at a wedding and hear the couple’s love story. Or when I’m doing a boudoir session and she tells me that she has never felt more beautiful. Man, I’m getting teary-eyed just thinking about it. I still cry at every father/daughter dance at my weddings. I do this because I can’t fathom doing anything else with my life. I never imagined I would be working so many hours, yet be so fulfilled.
~ Stay tuned for more Q&A posts from our wonderful contributing photographers.
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Shannon Griffin of Mi Amore Foto, has been a professional photographer for 6 years. She began her career in fashion and gradually found her passion in wedding and boudoir photography. “I began to realize that I enjoyed how personal weddings were,” Griffin explains. “As a photographer, you can stage the moment you are capturing or you can witness it. A big part of what gets me up in the morning is the opportunity to witness great moments in others’ lives. It is a real privilege.” Shannon works in both film and digital formats, travels as often as possible for work, and resides in North Florida with her husband and dog, Lola. When not working, she can be found at the nearest breakfast spot, or out with friends.
When I was in college, I had a friend who was a professional photographer. The first time I went to her home, I walked in to find stunning photographs of her children on the walls.
There was a huge canvas in their living room and a creative photo display in the main hallway. I remember being so moved by the beauty of those images, thinking to myself, “I want to create images like this!” I bought myself a DSLR as a graduation present, learned photography from online courses and started my photography business about a year later.