The first traces of fall make me literally giddy. The temps drop at night, there is a crispness in the air and I’m craving everything pumpkin. The changing leaves signify the start of a new season that includes some of my most favorite things…football, sweaters and boots. My least favorite thing…photographer burnout.
Fall is the craziest time of year for most photographers. Whether you’re a wedding or family photographer, you know that your inbox is full as well as your to do list. We won’t even talk about the “to edit” list.
You may feel like a chicken running around with your head cut off when the busy season hits. But you don’t have to. You can survive the craziness of this fall season. Dare I say thrive!
Recipe for Photographer Burnout
Last fall, I had 30 family sessions in 35 days. Many of these were mini sessions, which means 5-7 sessions back to back in one evening that are each 20 minutes long. It was a recipe for photographer burnout.
I had spent so much time creating and fine-tuning a workflow that made communication with all of my families seamless. What I should have done first is plan out my sessions to allow margin for every other area of my life. I let additional sessions “slip” onto my schedule & then wondered why I felt completely exhausted by Thanksgiving. Sound familiar?
By allowing other people’s schedule to dictate mine, I had unknowingly sacrificed my own happiness and precious time with my family. Even if I was there physically with them, I was often thinking about what I needed to do. Checking email to correspond with the all of the families I was photographing. Not giving them my undivided attention like they deserved.
I wish I could tell you that I have it all figured, but I don’t. What I do know is that I don’t want to experience complete and utter burnout like I have the past two fall seasons.
Margin won’t accidentally happen though. You’ll have to create it by choosing to be deeply productive and then just as deeply unplugged. Firm on your no to anything outside of your plan. If you’re thinking, what plan?! I’ve got you covered.
Making a Strategic Plan
After last year, I knew I had to implement some hard and fast rules for this fall. With a new baby and two preschoolers, I didn’t want to be frazzled or stressed out all the time. This is my favorite time of the year and I was spending most of it behind a computer editing. This fall had to be different.
Here are some rules I implemented for my business:
- Minimal weekend sessions – This fall, I have two weekend days of minis and a vow renewal. That’s it! Every other session is during the week. I’m not willing to sacrifice all of my weekends anymore.
- One session day per week – This was a big one for me. I continued to book more sessions last year even though I knew I’d be editing every night for weeks. Only twice this fall will I have two days of sessions in one week.
- Share your schedule early – I sent out my fall schedule in late July to my email newsletter. Preparing in advance helps my families plan earlier, answers their questions before they’ve asked them and allows me to bulk create contracts and proposals.
- Saying no to others means saying yes to your family – I’ve had to turn people away this year. The people pleaser in me cringes, but I know that it means I’m saying yes to my family.
- Block schedule your days – My work days this fall are Tuesdays and Thursdays. It’s easy to work any spare minute you get. Allow yourself to do something else that will fill up your cup on those non working days. I personally like to work on our family photo books, workout, read or binge watch Gilmore Girls.
Thriving in the Busy Season
As a stay at home mom and business owner, it’s a delicate balance to be fully engaged in both without feeling like you’re neglecting the other. Even more important is not sacrificing all of your evening time with your spouse to work. Everything else thrives in my life when our marriage is my highest priority behind God.
I’d love to know what you’ve done to avoid photographer burnout!