There is a lot of freedom in being authentic. Translucent. I’ve never been good at hiding things anyway! My smile usually gives me away. I laugh and cry with total reckless abandon (just ask my brides and grooms!), and I feel and live passionately.
People have told me that my presence on social media makes it look like I have a fabulous, perfect life. I’m sure it does! 🙂 It probably looks like I sleep late, drink coffee in my pajamas, run, kayak, fly fish, hang out with my incredibly handsome mustachioed husband… then take a few pictures and watch the cash roll in. And sure, some of that is right, mostly about the pajamas and the running. I don’t usually post or blog about the tough stuff though… no one wants to read that!
Examples of things that I always wanted to get off my chest but didn’t want to burden my friends with:
-What it’s like to work nights and weekends year-round, and to miss weddings of my friends and family to shoot weddings of others that we’ve booked far in advance.
-How confusing it can be to pay taxes as a small business- and what self-employment tax actually looks like!
-How it feels to have the owner of a big company email me angrily and tell me I’m not worth what I charge, all over an invoice totaling $100 and a misunderstanding over the contract on their end. I can’t work for free, even though I donate much of my work to non-profit organizations and great causes. Regardless of the fact that this problem was completely not my fault, I lost sleep over it, I couldn’t eat, and I was so upset that I sat in my office, shaking. It added a whole new component of fear to working with big companies and powerful people, and it took me a while to get over it!
-How my heart hurts when I hear people say that I must make SO MUCH MONEY because they look at a wedding package and split that pricing up hourly for the one day that they see us working… then say that we’re not worth it. The flip side of that is people asking for “reasonably priced” photographers. What exactly is reasonable?
-How my camera takes the good photos, and I’m just a person to press the button. Anyone could do my job if they had my gear!
It’s hard to be a small business owner, and even harder to be in the arts. I learned this in music long ago, and I continue to learn it every day through photography. When your product is a big part of who you are, and a personal expression, it’s hard not to take rejection personally. That’s how you know that artists truly love what they do. We put up with all the tough stuff just so we can make something beautiful.
I really love what I do, and I always feel incredibly lucky that I get to take photos for a living. I worked hard to get here, studied under several incredible artists, and I hope I get to keep learning and growing for many years to come!
So, it’s with baited breath that I tell you about what we’re working on now.
Right now, we’re in the middle of splitting up our business into two separate brands. That’s intimidating on its own, but trying to split myself in half seems equally difficult. I’ve taken marketing classes and worked with branding experts and it’s still tricky to take something so personal and make it into two separate entities. So that’s where our new brand, heo, comes into play.
We still run Photographic Memories, and it’s our baby. That’s where we categorize all our weddings, and families, and seniors, and all the love that we witness between people.
Then we have heo, which is our new creation, and that is all my commercial work. The food, drinks, products, headshots, events, gorgeous places, and adventures that I find myself on.
Fun fact: heo stands for Heidi Elizabeth Oberstadt. This was a logical name choice- since I am such a big part of what I do. I’m showcasing my work at http://www.heidioberstadt.com.
To be totally honest, sometimes I feel like I’m hiding something. Trying to run two totally different businesses can be complicated!
I often think of examples like this one: when I see a business like “Jason’s Towing, Deli, and Nail Salon,” I don’t go there for any of those services because I can’t imagine them being good at all of them… and I can’t really imagine them being good at ANY of them! If they were great at one of those businesses, wouldn’t they stick with that one? We’ve all seen places like that, especially in small towns.
I’m afraid that people will look at our businesses, and say, “How can ‘The Oberstadts’ be great wedding photographers while Heidi is simultaneously a great food photographer?” In the meantime, I’m working my buns off to continue to produce gorgeous images on both ends of the spectrum.
It’s liberating to share my fears, and I hope that you all will share our excitement as we move forward on this new adventure!
Miles this year: 225.45