02.18.13 Personal

The Best Things I've Done for My Business

Not too long ago, I blogged about the Top 5 Mistakes I Made When I Started My Business, but I thought I should probably highlight some of the Best Things I've Done for My Business. I'm sure loving capital letters, right? Today I'm taking a moment to share things that've helped my photography business in hopes of shedding light into my mangled path to becoming a full time photographer.


7. Having hobbies outside of photography.
I'm an avid reader and yogi. When I have free time, you'll likely find me in Downward Dog...or just laying down. With a bag of Skittles. And a good book.
My husband and I are huge movie lovers, so we make it a point to see at least one movie a week. We usually have to rotate our movie choices because JD likes brawny, guy movies, but I prefer foreign films. Reading and cinema rolled into one?! Sign me up!
Allowing my brain to fill with elements outside my craft/work really pushes me to think differently and create in new ways.
6. Finding photographers who inspire me.
This list is growing and ever-changing, but I can say that the photographer who sits squarely on top right now is Vivian Maier. Sometime last year, I came across her street photography and fell in love...JD even surprised me and took me to her exhibit when it was in Los Angeles. Known her entire life as a nanny, Maier took hundreds and hundreds of photos without showing a single person. The photos are truly amazing and show city life in America in a post-war glow. It wasn't until a local historian purchased a box of negatives from an auction and curated her work that the world has become to know who she was. Maier existed entirely in terms of what she saw and it wasn't until years after her death did her work become her legacy.
5. Working with my husband.
I'm sure there are couples who couldn't imagine working/eating/sleeping/dreaming/hoping with their spouse every waking moment, but I love it. I feel incredibly blessed to be supported by one of the most amazing men I've ever met. No, really, JD is mind-blowingly awesome and I have no idea why he married me. I totally married up and increased my business worth having him as part of my team.
4. Working with an amazing graphic designer.
I met Promise Tangeman three years ago and it was love at first site (pun intended). Seriously, the first site I saw designed by her left me smitten. Promise is amazing at taking my ideas and making them come to life in unimaginable ways.
3. Creating a schedule.
I have strict office hours and this allows me to live the life I want. I crave freedom and living life without boundaries, so by adhering to a schedule outlining my work, I know where I can skimp and splurge on life's special moments. Yes, I take long lunches on occasion and watch midday matinees with my husband, but it's only because I've planned my schedule and know what needs to be done and by when. Here's a peek at what an average work day looks like for me.
2. Hanging out with people smarter than me.
I've met brilliant people as I've built my business and they've given me the most amazing gift: friendship. Being able to see success unfold for people around me offers a blueprint how I can emulate it in my life and business. They paint vibrant pictures with the same brushes I have, so I'm challenged to color the horizon the way I imagine.
1. Asking my parents for advice.
My parents immigrated to the United States with nothing, so it's easy for an outsider to hear their accents or judge the color of their skin, but they are incredibly insightful and savvy though neither of them went to college. They provide emotional and spiritual insight which has laid the foundation to the core of who I am, as well as my personal brand. Everything I am is because of their sacrifice, love and devotion.

Hope this helps shed light into my process, but I'd love to hear about yours...if you'd like to share, feel free to holler back in the comment box!
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joe martin - Hanging out with people smarter than me. yes very good advise   03.09.14 - 12:03am
Wedding Planner - Jasmine you are really a talented photographer, i am also a wedding planner and photographer, but your pictures are awesome, i have learned so many things from your blog....i really appreciate it.....keep good posting.  12.12.13 - 3:28pm
ramesh - nicce blog nice images   10.17.13 - 10:58am
Chioma Ozuzu - Hi Jasmine, Ok, so I might be totally obsessed with your blog and your work, but let me just say that blogs like this one is the reason why I venture into photography in the first place! Surrounding yourself with amazing and brilliant people brings the very best of you, not to mention coming from a West African culture makes me more interesting as well! Thank you so much for the insight and warm advice! You are beyond inspiration!  03.02.13 - 3:20pm
Kasia Nowak - Jasmine, you're amazing! Thank you for this post!   02.24.13 - 12:10pm
Tamara Nicole - This was so great to read! I am so bad at creating non-work time, and I know it will only benefit me in the long run:) I am a free spirit too and need some free time to enjoy and get refreshed:) GREAT post!  02.24.13 - 11:57am
Rebecca Hansson - My English is not the best, but will try to make myself understood. I take my partner with me for as many jobs as I can. Some people think I'm crazy, but feel just the same as you describe in the text. To have him, make me a better photographer. /Swedish girl   02.24.13 - 11:28am
Erika - I'm starting to do some of this.. I hope one day I can achieve what you have :)  02.23.13 - 1:59am
Kristen - Thank you for writing about Vivian Maier. I hadn't heard of her before but now I am quite enamoured! I have put one of her books of prints on my birthday list and eagerly await the documentary about her life to be released. I love the parallel to Emily Dickinson, the secret poetess. I could go on and on, but thank you.   02.22.13 - 10:34pm
Okana Harris - Omg, new idea!!! YOGA creativeLIVE course with Jasmine Star!!! haha, I'd totally do it! I can picture just how much FUN yoga with Jasmine would be. Can you? Jasmine at the front of the room, looking fabulous as always - in stylish yoga attire. And she is explaining something, and cracking everybody up and yelling "you know what I mean!!" haha and people are crying at the touching stories she's telling. And occasionally, she's explaining how to do a pose and says "just *jujsh* an upward dog here." I cannot wait, we need to make this a reality. This would be the funnest yoga ever! Love you Jasmine! Wish you taught yoga, too!  02.22.13 - 10:15am
Xiomara - I seriously need to access this are of my life. I am busy. And yes, I know you are too but I really admire that you prioritize time for other interests other than work. Holding two jobs while being mother and wife is hard but that shouldn't be an excuse either. Anyway all that to say, you constantly get my brain going and assessing.   02.21.13 - 10:09pm
Lesley - Creating a schedule is one of the smartest things I've ever done for my business and life - it keeps me sane and able to know what's coming up. Also surrounding myself with people who inspire and are smarter than me, great way to be challenged and laugh my butt off at the same time!  02.20.13 - 9:48am
Megan Aldridge Photography - Thank you Jasmine, for being so inspiring and generous. I love photographers who are so open to helping and sharing with others.  02.20.13 - 12:23am
Stacey - Total City Girl - I totally agree about Vivian Maier Last year I saw a small exhibit here in NY and I also have a book of some of her photos. I am also inspired by Sally Mann and her Immediate Family photographs.   02.19.13 - 6:07pm
Antonia Chick - I love your quote that those who inspire you 'paint vibrant pictures with the brushes that YOU have ...' that is such a good way of putting it ...those who you look to, who you admire are using the same medium, the same tools as you are ... what you create with them is totally down to you...your hard work, your vision...thanks as always Jasmine for keeping me looking forward!!   02.19.13 - 10:51am
Mercedes Snow - Oh, Vivian Maier. Photography and history all rolled into one - my favorite. But know that you're inspiring to so many, and in the photo world, you'll go down in our personal history books, too.  02.19.13 - 7:26am
Norman Stevens - Great article, and one that I think will be of inspiration to others.  02.19.13 - 6:25am
Rob Brook - My biggest mistakes was not having faith in my abilities I already had. I spent too much time and money trying to learn new skills I didn't have rather than out sourcing it.  02.19.13 - 1:35am
Michael Herod - Ok lol, so did anyone else see this photo and instantly think of Facebook. http://www.vivianmaier.com/portfolios/self-portraits/?pid=285 I love her eye and how her personality comes out in her work, I just found that one amusing.  02.18.13 - 9:43pm
Bob Owen - really interesting. All my photographer friends are smarter than me, so I'm on my way!  02.18.13 - 4:46pm
ashley link - you are wonderful and so inspiring! I love movies toooo!!! I try to see a new one every week! thanks for being so generous in your photography knowledge! :)   02.18.13 - 4:02pm
Nina M - thank you so much for sharing the info on Vivian Maier. What an amazing story..!! Imagine finding all those negatives & undeveloped rolls of film... wow!  02.18.13 - 1:50pm
chad - I don't know if you have time to read comments, but I am wondering how your clients sign their wedding agreement, I am looking for a way to do this online so I can save the time of mailing agreements back and forth...thanks for sharing so much...  02.18.13 - 12:46pm
Ela- Studio Finch - I agree whole heartedly to all of this!!!! I love working with my husband as well. And scheduling, anything with possibilities of being color coordinated. :)  02.18.13 - 12:29pm
John Smallwood - Sharing both of these posts with my photography students. Thank you.  02.18.13 - 12:09pm
Sarah - A fantastic post! I have to say, Vivian Maier is at the top of my list of favourite photographers right now. And you're on there too!!  02.18.13 - 11:31am
Robert Swanigan - Great post! Love #5!! Nothing like working with my wife on projects!!  02.18.13 - 10:57am
julie - Jasmine, I've followed you almost since the beginning of your career. I think back on the years I've watched you grow and been inspired by your work, your giving spirit and your love for shooting. I'm like you...I hate all the post editing but love shooting. To know I can outsource is WOW!! I have not gravitated to weddings but love sports and macro. I keep honing my skills, watching reSTARt and shooting away. Thanks for giving back to us. In so many ways I feel like a proud mama towards you. In other ways I'm in awe of your talent, determination and skill. May God certainly bless you as you share and bless others. You so easily share with us your heart and the heart of the FATHER. I just wanted to say "Thanks!" julie  02.18.13 - 9:51am
Yevgen - Very good insights. One especially inspiring line was "hanging out with people smarter than me"!   02.18.13 - 9:34am
Sharon - I like #2! Wanna hang out this week? ;) Hee hee! Great post!  02.18.13 - 9:00am
Stephanie - I LOVE Vivian Maier's work and the story of how it was discovered. She had a great eye and a knack for identifying that decisive moment in street photography. Such a great inspiration. One of my other personal faves is Cindy Sherman. Not sure if you're familiar with her work but I especially love her self-portrait series of Untitled Film Stills. I love movies too and I'd like to think my photos have a 'cinematic' quality to them (it's one of my branding words :) ) so Sherman's work is very inspiring to me. Happy Monday! PS - Great job with reSTARt last week. :)  02.18.13 - 8:48am
Jessica Vidmar Photography - wow, jasmine! great post! so real and informative at the same time. i have to say, it was because of you i started waking up at 6:30 every morning (i have since changed it to 6). all my life i have been more of a night owl and late morning sleeper. i went full time with my wedding photography business back in may of '12 and still found myself not getting going til 9/9:30 (or even later) most mornings, not working out, not having enough business and wondering why my life was not looking like i wanted it to. i was also going to a business coach at the time and the one question he kept asking me was if i was treating my business as a business or a hobby. he knew i claimed it was a business but was i really treating it as one? the answer was clear. i read your post on when you wake up and that you work out most days and i thought to myself that if jasmine is successful and wakes up at 6:30 and works out, and i would like to have more success in my life, than gosh darnit, so can i! now, i have to say that i still feel very far away from my goals/dreams but a little closer than i was back in may so thank you!  02.18.13 - 8:43am
Litza Menendez - I love this! but again, I enjoy all your blogs.thank you for sharing your love and passion for what you do, it makes me enjoy it even more!  02.18.13 - 8:38am
Sharon - Hi Jasmine, I am by no means successful. But I feel like the best thing I have done for my photography business is to reach out to other photographers and befriend them. I used to be and still am really shy to talk to people, especially photographers. I felt like since most photogs are more successful and better than me at photography, they wouldn't care to be friend with a small fry like me. But after I reached out to a couple of photographers, I found that most people are willing to share what they know and willing to view you as a friend, not a competition. I am truly inspired by generous and awesome photographers like that and you are totally one of them. I hope you know how much your tips and willingness to share have motivate me. If I ever get to meet you in person, I would totally give you a big bear hug. Regards, Sharon  02.18.13 - 8:32am
Alli McWhinney - Don't forget about taking vacations! I think we all need those once in a while! Great post, thanks!  02.18.13 - 8:19am
Karina - Thank you for sharing. I needed this healthy reminder of what truly makes us thrive!   02.18.13 - 8:07am
Brittany Walsh - Thrilled to see you are a Vivian Maier fan! Did you see the trailer for the documentary coming out??  02.18.13 - 8:05am
Miriam - You are so inspirational Jasmine*!!! I appreciate your rawness and willingness to help others grow and build their business!!! Thank you for all you do!!!  02.18.13 - 8:03am
Candace Simpson - thanks so much for sharing!  02.18.13 - 7:39am
Samantha Margalit - Hi Jasmine! You have been an inspiration to be ever since my first ever photographer that I worked for told me about you. I have followed you for the past five years while I have grown my business. I am just beginning to start to do what is right for myself. I purchased SHOWIT and have been trying to craft a website that I loved but realized I would need a lot more than my own graphic knowledge to get me by. I watched the second episode of Creative Live just in time for you to say "I'm a photographer, not a designer" and I resolved to purchase one of Promise Tangeman's site designs when I can drum up the money for it (hopefully soon!). I am more unstable financially than I have ever been in my whole life because I am taking this chance on my business but I have this faith that it will pay off. I booked one wedding last week and another is hopefully in the works. I had 5 dollars to my name at the end of last year but I feel as though its going somewhere. I have been trying to build up and build up and now I have a ton of work but with no way to showcase it or showcase myself. In a show my boyfriend and I are watching for the first time (and are obsessed with) Don Draper says, "We are the product, we are what sells". We watched that episode the day after your Creative Live session and its all resonating. I feel like the universe is trying to tell me something! I'm hoping that the best things I will do for my business are yet to come but the first one I can say with confidence is leaving everything else behind. For me, it was very difficult to continue with a passion while you're trying to wait tables or answer phones. I want nothing more than to take lasting images and be able to support myself while doing it. Thanks for all that you do and all the inspiration and motivation you put out into the world!   02.18.13 - 7:32am
Samantha Margalit - Hi Jasmine! You have been an inspiration to be ever since my first ever photographer that I worked for told me about you. I have followed you for the past five years while I have grown my business. I am just beginning to start to do what is right for myself. I purchased SHOWIT and have been trying to craft a website that I loved but realized I would need a lot more than my own graphic knowledge to get me by. I watched the second episode of Creative Live just in time for you to say "I'm a photographer, not a designer" and I resolved to purchase one of Promise Tangeman's site designs when I can drum up the money for it (hopefully soon!). I am more unstable financially than I have ever been in my whole life because I am taking this chance on my business but I have this faith that it will pay off. I booked one wedding last week and another is hopefully in the works. I had 5 dollars to my name at the end of last year but I feel as though its going somewhere. I have been trying to build up and build up and now I have a ton of work but with no way to showcase it or showcase myself. In a show my boyfriend and I are watching for the first time (and are obsessed with) Don Draper says, "We are the product, we are what sells". We watched that episode the day after your Creative Live session and its all resonating. I feel like the universe is trying to tell me something! I'm hoping that the best things I will do for my business are yet to come but the first one I can say with confidence is leaving everything else behind. For me, it was very difficult to continue with a passion while you're trying to wait tables or answer phones. I want nothing more than to take lasting images and be able to support myself while doing it. Thanks for all that you do and all the inspiration and motivation you put out into the world!   02.18.13 - 7:31am
Allie Coyle - Thanks for the insight into your day Jasmine! My toughest thing is making a schedule because I LOVE working from home and having freedom! As a free spirited person, I feel like having the same schedule boxes me in, but it's great to see that having a schedule can actually free you up to do what you want later and probably even creates more time to be free. Thank you! Now off to figure out a schedule... :)  02.18.13 - 7:30am
Whitney Lane - These points all make me happy. These are all things I have in my life right now and its so nice to know that focussing on them will help me in my business as much as they help my soul :)  02.18.13 - 7:30am
Mike Randall - YOU ROCK. I have recently make the life decision to become a pro photographer after years of taking pictures for fun. I love, love, love your site and philosophy, as well as your incredible talent! Thanks for being an inspiration!  02.18.13 - 7:25am
Teresa - Thanks for this insight, Jasmine.. We're going to be a couple team too and I'm so glad it works for you and JD. And thanks for being so open on what you've learnt, your classes on CL are mind blowing!!! Hugs from Italy, Teresa  02.18.13 - 7:22am
Joe Kelley - First off...thank you for the creative live session the other day. It was AMAZING! I used to be a part time for 5 years when I worked in corporate America. I would shoot on the weekends because I thought I could do both at once. After doing this for so long I realized I need to make changes, so last October I went full-time and haven't looked back. I was blown away by how much I didn't know about what I was doing wrong. You are one of the photographers who gave me the push to step outside of my comfort zone and pursue my dreams. After reading exposed magazine cover to cover for what seems like the 100th time I started to understand that being comfortable with my steady paycheck didn't give me any inspiration or passion that I used to have. You give me hope that its not always going to be easy but it will be worth it to follow your dreams. I think all of the things you do help your business and I identify with them too. I think you inspire me as my top choice. Not only with your work, but the relationship you have with JD and how your run the business aspects too. I could keep writing, but I have a schedule to keep too. :)   02.18.13 - 7:18am
Sandra - Thank you Jasmine, I needed this. As well as the previous blog about the top five mistakes.. you are so inspiring!  02.18.13 - 7:17am
Jeanne Mitchum - Those are all such wonderful things that I too try to do especially the strict work hours. I don't work with my husband (although he helps with shoots when he can), so it's that much more important to me to stick to a strict set of work hours. The second I started doing that was the second things fell more into place. Thanks for writing these great tips and Vivian Maier's work is amazing!!!  02.18.13 - 7:14am
MJEmery - Thanks for turning me on to Vivian Maier. Now the rest of my day is shot.   02.18.13 - 7:13am
Jenna Kutcher - The best thing I have done for my business? Believing in myself. Enough to take leaps of faith and wait for the net to appear... quitting a corporate job, picking up a camera and saying the words, "I am a photographer" even if I didn't fully believe it. If I didn't believe in what I was doing, why would anyone else?   02.18.13 - 7:13am
sherman orendorf - thank you Jasmine I needed something like this to get me to realize that i need to set a schedule for my work and play  02.18.13 - 7:13am
Mustatea Cristian-Mihai - Hello, Jasmine! Thank you for the advices! I start to read what you write and i admire you for your power to be ho you are! To be ho you are is one of the most primary things that a photographer should know and be aware!  02.18.13 - 5:59am
Dez - Thank you for this post and for your 5 Worst Things I've Done For My Business. Your advice has been so encouraging as I start on my journey as a professional photographer. I am at the START line and I am thankful that you've turned me into a sprinter. I cannot wait for your next reSTART. Sprinting towards my dreams with an awesome cheerleader in you!   02.18.13 - 5:48am
Ashlyn - This is so good- and I enjoyed reading the things you did wrong for your business! :O really what I needed to hear this morning :)  02.18.13 - 5:42am
Kristin - Such great advice!  02.18.13 - 5:30am
sarah danaher - 1. Hobbies outside of work, yes, but more than that, and *identity* outside of photography. It's really, really easy to get stuck in this mindset that "I and my camera are one," and I find that if I wrap who I am around that small bit of metal and glass, life starts caving inward real fast. 2. Admit when I can't do something. Be willing to ask for help. And feel the freedom to say no to things (especially if they don't fit within my work schedule or work/life balance). 3. Recognize that just because something works for one wedding photographer, it doesn't mean it will work for me, too. Every person is different— different stress triggers, different levels of emotional capacity for people and relationships, different ways of thinking, etc. Learning what other people do might be helpful for me, but expecting their system to work for my life is rarely a good thing. 4. Spend meaningful time with people (friends & family), APART from my computer. :) 5. Stop looking at wedding blogs and magazines. I find that if I look at other peoples' work too much, that's all that I have in my head when I'm out shooting. I want MY inspiration in my head, not theirs. It's my work, afterall. 6. JUST DO IT. Just because something is hard or confusing, that doesn't that I shouldn't do it, or that I can't do it, or that I should outsource it, etc. Work *IS* work afterall. Sometimes I just need to put my head down and do it. Those are some decisions that I've made that have helped! :)  02.18.13 - 5:24am
noemi - GOD BLESS U Thank you for the tutorial and workshop...your are a Fabulous (>??)?   02.18.13 - 5:08am
Monica Justesen Photography - Number 1!!! Yes, a thousand times, yes! I've learned that my mother has some of the most tried and true and SOLID life and business advice. I just have to be willing to breach the subject. These are all amazing tidbits though, as always. Thanks, Jasmine!  02.18.13 - 4:07am
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