5 Things I Learned Taking Photos at a Dance Studio

About a month ago, I had the honor of taking recital photos for a local dance studio. I had never taken “studio” photos before so I was excited and up for the challenge!

When I think about being a mom, I can’t help but to wonder what my little guy is going to grow up and want to become. Will he want to play a professional sport? Become a doctor? Play an instrument? Church leadership? My mind could go all day when I think about such things! Whatever he becomes, I want him to be proud of himself and all that he has accomplished. I know that he will do great things!!

As I was watching these little girls and boys come into the dance studio, recital ready and dressed to get their pictures taken, it made my mama heart smile so big! I loved being a part of it and watching the parents be so supportive and encouraging, as well as their dance teacher.

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

- Matthew 18:3-4

I think back to when I was just a little girl. My dreams. My goals. When I would lace up my basketball shoes and imagine I was playing in front of thousands of people. I think back to my church planting days in my early twenties. I love looking back and thinking about how many times my dreams changed over the years. Where I would live, what I would do for a living, who I would marry, etc.

Take a minute and think about those moment in your life. What did you dream about? What did you hope your life would look like? How many times did it change? How does that make you feel?

It makes me so happy to think about those times in my life when I wasn’t afraid to dream. It makes me excited for my 14 month old because he’s just now starting the season in his life where he is going to have dreams and goals for his life. My husband tells me all the time that he can’t wait to buy Preston’s first set of baseball gear.

Check out some of the photos from this session below!

So, that was fun. It was a beautiful day, but I’m here not just to tell that story, but pour into other photographer as well as my clients. In an effort to be fully transparent and to be real, I wanted to share some of the pain points I faced during this shoot. There were many things I could have done differently in order for this to have gone better.

It was my first time in a studio setting with this many subjects in a session! I’m also a new business owner!

Here are some of the things I learned during this shoot

  1. Visit your location prior to the event and make sure you have enough light. No windows? Bring light and make sure you’re able to get the environment looking how it needs to look! I had to do way too much work to get these photos edited correctly and it would have saved a lot of time if I had brought even just my ring light!

  2. Make sure you have all of the props/backdrop materials you need. This caused a major headache for me because I did NOT do that. I only had a few feet worth of my white backdrop left and because of that, half of the background was pure white and the other half was light tan / off white. Needless to say, those photos did NOT turn out well.

  3. Own your mistakes. The backdrop issue became the biggest learning moment for me as a photographer and business owner so far. As a photographer. I should have noticed the backdrop was unacceptable and delayed or rescheduled the shoot until I had enough material for it. As a business owner, I should never have sent the photos out in the quality that I did. So this morning, I had to send an apology email to 54 clients and apologize for the photos that I sent out. I was so embarrassed. I almost put the camera away for good. But I can confidently say that owning my mistakes will always be a best practice for me, my business, and my future employees.

  4. Delight your customers at all costs. My customers are NOT an output of my business. They’re not the finish line. They’re the ultimate reason and resource for my business. They’re an INPUT back into my business. They’re potential returning customer and they’re potential referrals for new business. Most importantly, they’re people with stories and families that are trusting me to capture their most beautiful moments. Here’s what I did to delight my customers after owning a mistake I made. I offered to meet every single one of them at the dance studio again for a free re-shoot on their schedule. I then offered for next recital’s session to be completely free for all customers that attended this first session. And for customers that are not able to or desiring a re-shoot, I’ve offered a free session of any kind in return for this! I was just real with these people. They deserve my best. They didn’t get my best. I’m working tirelessly to make it right.

  5. Just keep dreaming. This whole situation made me literally cry and want to quit photography forever. I honestly have never been at fault for such a major customer service issue before. Nor have I ever owned a business before. This is a moment that I’m going to get to use to teach other photographers and business owners one day. It’s something I will be able to laugh about one day.. Just not today. For me, instead of hanging up my camera and giving up on my dream, I treated this as part of my dream and am growing for it!

It was such a horrible experience that is now such a beautiful learning moment that I will never forget

A prayer for parents:
”Father, thank you for these children I got to spend so much time with and thank you for the lessons you taught me through them along the way. Today, I left up these kids. I pray you will guide them and keep them filled with faith to pursue their dreams and provide them the courage it takes to keep going even when it’s hard. I lift up these parents as well. I pray that they will continue providing for their families and leading so well. I thank you for equipping them to raise such beautiful, passionate children. Amen.”

Thank you for being with me on this journey!