My journey with Team-X started at the largest photography conference of the year. I was in my third year of business, and it was my first time at WPPI. I was excited, nervous, and starry- eyed. My business had been growing, and I had recently quit my full-time job as an engineer to pursue my passion for photography and small business ownership. I was introduced to Jeff through ShootDotEdit (also mentioned in this book!), and was slightly intimidated. Regardless, after a lunch with him and an introduction to the concept of specialism, I was intrigued and decided to move forward with my new business coach. I had no idea what was in store… And after that trip to WPPI is when my entire business changed. I worked with Jeff for over a year, and really aimed to create focus and a business Specialism that truly spoke to who I was as an individual. I learned that I am a dichotomy – which, in itself, is difficult to come to understand as a specialty. How can I be one thing, and then it’s almost total opposite? The clarity for me came when I finally stepped back and looked at where I came from – my favorite place on earth – Pittsburgh. My city is a truly a city of dichotomy – cosmopolitan and country. Always new and leading with technology, yet country and homespun. I am my city, and my business is Me. It fits perfectly with everything that I am about. Together with Jeff, I have been able to verbalize that I am the “Big City Photographer for the Hometown Bride”, and clients have been pouring in the door.
It’s not always a piece of cake, though – I still work a lot on my business and photography – but I have seen growth, and have worked now to add new photographers to my business who also truly fit with my WHY. They understand the company, and they too are cosmopolitan, vibrant, and real. I have a “filter” through which I can process everything that goes online – images, words, and stories. I have clients who email me out of nowhere with lengthy stories about who THEY are, and how THEY fit with ME. I can read contact form submissions and instantly know whether a client will book me. I can focus my efforts on the right people, and see them leaving as true champions for The Leeann Marie Collective. Lastly, specializing in weddings and engagements for the cosmopolitan, vibrant, and real Pittsburgh brides has allowed me to drop everything that weighed me down. I have free time to LIVE, and my business makes my LIFE happy. I am tied to the monotony of trying to compete with every photographer in the industry, because I am now focused on simply putting out there the links that will help me to meet my next new friend and bride. I can set a few hours aside to do meaningful work (which is actually enjoyable), and then move on with my day and LIVE the LIFE that is also my specialty.