Hi, I'm Danielle and I'm an introvert.
People are sometimes surprised when they find that out. Probably because I try so hard to NOT be an introvert.
But as I sit here in a coffee shop trying to get my hands to stop trembling after a bridal consultation where I am reflecting on all the awkward talking-with-my-hands gestures I made, or how hard I focused on making sure my voice didn't shake, I am reminded on how much of an introvert I actually am.
So why, as an introvert, did I go into a field where I constantly have to take charge of a situation, meet new people and be brought to a point of attention?
Because I'm passionate about my work. Because despite being uncomfortable at first, I genuinely like people. And because every time I push past the social discomfort, that is, being an introvert, I feel incredibly empowered.
Near the end of 2015, I started analyzing my images of a shoot as compared to my emotions at the time. One thing that became glaringly obvious were the images that stood out to me and others, as favorites, were ones where I was comfortable with my subject matter. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the shoots where something unpleasant had occurred or I had minimal contact with the couple before their wedding lacked luster.
Not only do I want to create beautiful portraits, I want to provide a quality service to my clients where each person knows I care about them and that they are appreciated. Realizing THAT was my mission statement as a business, I knew I needed to instill business practices that helped me break through my introvert layer and into my comfortable sweet spot and away from the lack luster, no connection hazard zone.
So, how am I going to do this?
Well, I need us to be friends.
"Wait, what?" You might be thinking. I'm hiring you for a service, not to be invited to Friendsgiving.
Here me out.
We don't have to be on the friendship level where you know my middle name (it's Michele) and what town I was born in (Marrero, Louisiana) and we join a book club and work out together four days a week.
Because, really, I'm lucky to make it to the gym three days a week.
No, we don't have to be besties, but I do need to know more about you than the clothes you chose to wear to a shoot and your email address. Not only does it benefit me as your photographer, but you as well. If you are also comfortable with me, then you'll relax, and when you relax, then your emotions in photos will be genuine, and those non-posed photos everyone wants, but are hard to achieve without posing, will come much easier.
So for 2016, I have started implementing ways to begin my "friendship" with couples on the journey to their wedding day, this way, by the time we get to the big day we have reached mutual social comfort.
Step 1. Responding to a wedding inquiry not only gets package pricing, but a photo of Daniel and I and a little about us. You are looking at spending your entire wedding day with me, it's important we like who each other are as people.
Step 2. We meet face-to-face to talk through the contract, even if that "face-to-face" has to be Skype.
Step 3. An engagement session is required. An engagement session is now part of my wedding package instead of an add-on. Personally, I think this is the biggest step to getting past being an introvert and awkwardness. I can't think of a single one of my couples, who I didn't bond with, that had an engagement session with me. Engagement sessions are important.
And hey, if we end up joining a book club, that's just an added bonus.
So, let's be friends!