PREFACE: It’s no secret that I travel a lot, and that my job allows me to do so. It’s actually a large part of my job. Every year, for the past few years, I’ve had opportunities to travel around the country and globe to photograph people; specifically people in love, getting married. I love that THAT’S my job! Being invited into intimate moments between couples with their close friends and family is one of the greatest honors.
I continue to welcome and book destination/travel weddings, but I have always said that I’m going to be based wherever I live. Meaning, the majority of my work will be within driving distance of my home. It’s something that my husband and I agreed upon years ago and it works really well for us. But anywhere from 2-6 times a year I get to travel somewhere for a wedding, while the rest of my couples get married within 2-4 hours driving distance from my house.
So when I moved to the Milwaukee area in the fall of 2018, I wasn’t really sure how to get things moving in Wisconsin after building an entire base in Wichita for the six years prior. As I educated myself on how to break into a new city, I continued flying/driving back to Kansas (my former home base) for weddings that I had booked before I knew we’d be moving. This went on for months. I’d be gone every other weekend or for 1.5 weeks at a time. Without even trying, I had turned into strictly a travel/destination wedding photographer. It was definitely fun, but over time it got exhausting and even lonely. I began to long for my business to have a focused location again.
Would I ever have a Home Base again like I had always thought and planned? It worked for us, for our family and our lifestyle. Is it going to take me six years to get as much work as I had while I was living in Wichita?
I became so overwhelmed with breaking into my new market, that I often just ignored trying and excused my lack of bookings with: I just don’t know how to make it work in Milwaukee!
Matt challenged me to finally came up with a legit game plan and a timeline to begin reaching the Milwaukee wedding market. That deadline was one year ago this month. In February 2019 I started viewing Milwaukee as the official home of JWild Photography, and I began working my butt off trying to reach people: revamping my website, geotagging like crazy, networking with other people in the industry, and throwing my own name out wherever I could. As I did this, I prayed that my name would get into the hands of my ideal client; I had no intention to just take anything that came my way, because I still firmly believe that I am not the best photographer for everyone, nor is every couple the best fit for me. But wouldn’t you know it, inquiries started coming in like crazy. I even remember within an eight day window in early March, I received 12 inquiries for weddings. 12! I didn’t book all of those, which I’m fine with because I truly wasn’t the best fit for all of them, but I can absolutely tell you that seeing my hard work beginning to reach people in my new city, gave me a boost of confidence that I so desperately needed.
Fast forward to now. A year after I began working tirelessly to break into the market, I can say without hesitation that I’m so pleased to be standing where I am. I still have openings for 2020, but am satisfied with what I have booked for the year. And since I’m not overbooked (as I was in 2017), I have more time to focus on my couples with their wedding prep, etc. Because know that when a couple books me, I work my tail off to serve them.
I feel like what I struggled with is common for people who “restart” something they’ve done for years, and that my issue also had a simple solution… you want to see results? Okay, then get out there, work your butt off and make it happen. Sounds so easy, right? Yeah, it can be. The solution was easy. But the path to it wasn’t. For myself, an INFJ and an enneagram 4, “making it happen” wasn’t easy. Trying to break into the Milwaukee market while also trying to find a church home, new friends, figure out routine in a new city, parenting a 1 and 3 year old, a traveling husband, continue to serve my already booked clients well, etc. (I could go on)… it was hard. Damn hard!
So you will still see me posting gorgeous photos from California, Seattle or Canada (which I will always love!), but I’m excited that JWild Photography has officially found a home [again].