Why We Decided to Be Educators | Erica + Jon Photography

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We're Erica + Jon, professional photographers, Mr + Mrs and Mom + Dad. We like to share insights into our industry, behind the scenes and stories about our life and chips + salsa obsession.

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Why We Decided to Be Educators

We were 8 years into marriage with two kids of the ages of 5 + 2 when we took the leap…

We closed our eyes tight and held our breath as we kissed comfort goodbye. We walked away from financial security with Jon scaling the company ladder with a steady salary, driving a company truck, and top-notch insurance for our family. Walking away from that lifestyle led us down a path of endless possibilities for the dreams we’ve always talked about for ourselves – some of them we are still working towards and others we are blessed with living out today.

As scary as all of that process sounds, it was made a little easier because of some help we received along the way. Help from others who had gone before us, had built a successful business, and were willing to show us exactly what it took. As we set out to become the next husband and wife wedding and lifestyle photography team, we were empowered with knowledge and a replicable plan that helped us believe we had what it took to face the tough journey ahead. We were able to learn from those who were vulnerable enough to share the mistakes they had made in hopes that it would help others like us avoid them.

We owe so much of who we are today to those that selflessly shared their knowledge with us through education. 

When we decided to pivot our business to the commercial brand photography space, we searched for similar educational options only to come up empty. There was next to nothing – at least not real, raw education like we had experience with the wedding industry. Instead, we applied what we knew from foundational photography skills and a desire to create a great client experience to our new direction and did the best we could. 

But we struggled! There was so much between the two industries that didn’t directly correlate. Working with marketing agencies and brands is nothing like working with brides and families. We paid dearly for our ‘on the job education.’ Sometimes it meant extra work correcting mistakes. Other times we lost out big financially on missed opportunities due to ignorance or spending on things that weren’t needed. It was a rough and bumpy road that had us seriously thinking about quitting multiple times.

It made us think about what we might have to offer the larger community of photographers. As newcomers to the commercial space, was there any value we could offer? To us, it’s easier to see our failures more than our successes. But we wondered if there was room for US to become educators like those who had given so much to us through education. 

Immediately doubt crept in, fighting to hold us back from believing we had anything valuable to offer. 

There are too many other people doing education.

That boat has long since set sail – you missed your opportunity.

You’re too new. 

You have nothing to offer.

You’re an imposter. 

You’ll fail and embarrass yourselves – play it safe instead.

All of these thoughts filled our minds.

During our recent endeavor to finally watch the entire Star Wars collection, we came across a lot of quotes that made us stop and think. That’s right…that movie about intergalactic battles between both sides of the force…it spoke to us! 😂

In talking with Luke Skywalker, Yoda encourages him about his ability to train Jedis with these words…(it helps if you read this out loud in your best Yoda impersonation):

“Pass on what you have learned…strength, mastery…but weakness, folly, and failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is.” – Yoda, The Last Jedi

We knew this to be true because we had learned from others who were willing to share their failures openly. 

So why on earth would we believe the lies in our minds? Why would we believe that the mistakes we made and the costs we paid were any less valuable information than those who selflessly passed on the lessons from their mistakes and failures to us?

THAT is why we decided to change our mindset from ‘becoming educators’ to embracing the opportunities we had to positively impact others by ‘being educators.’ As our friend Jasmine Star puts it, we decided to take what we had and make it work. 

It’s why we launched one-on-one mentoring in 2019. It’s why we are launching our first online course in 2020. We’re using the tuition we paid in the school of hard knocks to positively impact you, just like others did for us. 

Hearing about how you have been able to gain new insights, avoid pitfalls, and grow your brand photography business is what keeps us going, and we can’t wait to deliver more of our hard-learned lessons on a larger scale soon with The Planning + Styling Course. It’s education all about how to get inside your client’s head and style photos to build their brand. If you want to be on the waitlist and be the first to hear about launch details and special offers, click here!

And tell us, friend – what lessons would YOU like to learn? What information would help you break through your current circumstances? We’d love to hear how we can provide any helpful insight through our own experiences, so leave a comment below and let us know!

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