Community Over Competition: Building Your Own Creative Tribe

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Community Over Competition: Building Your Own Creative Tribe

Community over competition.

This is an idea that I keep as a core value in my business philosophy. Yes, you better believe I am in it to win it, but I don't see why I have to step on anyone else to get there. I am in the business of serving others. My clients lives are enriched by the products and services I offer.

I can't shoot every wedding that comes my way, nor would I want to. Gosh, how exhausting would that be? Just thinking about that makes me need a nap. When we support each other and build a creative tribe, we all succeed.

I am a wedding photographer. And I love photographing weddings! But, sadly, I can’t shoot two weddings at the same time, it’s physically impossible! That’s where my creative tribe comes in. In my tribe are a handful of other photographers that I have worked with that I TRUST to refer couples to. I know those photographers do excellent work, just like me. I also know that those photographers can’t shoot every wedding either. Do you see where I’m going with this? When we stop viewing everyone as “the competition” we can all succeed and grow.  

Is this a natural way to think? No! Especially not in good ol’ ‘Murica where capitalism reigns supreme. Competition is a part of life, and can even be fun at times, but life is not a competition. Life is about relationships. And that’s not to say that everyone will win or find their place to shine. Businesses will fail. Some won’t find their target market and others may manage their business poorly. And some will fail simply because their owners lack the confidence to believe in themselves. But there is a difference between a business failing because it didn’t find its niche and a business failing because other business owners were discouraging or deceptive.  

When I first began my business I viewed everyone as my competition because, well…they are! And I was terrified. I was completely intimidated by other photographers, constantly comparing myself and becoming more and more overwhelmed and discouraged by the second. It was honestly a nightmare and a completely unsustainable way to run my business.


Start by identifying your creative field.

Do you provide a creative service? Do you make products that us creatives use? Are you a floral artist? Do you bake? Are you an organizer extraordinaire? A writer? Maybe it’s just a hobby, or maybe it’s your sole passion in life?

Great! Now find others in your area who do the same as you. Instagram and Facebook are wonderful tools to easily connect with like-minded creatives. I’m giving you permission to FB stalk the crap out of them! Also, think about joining more specialized groups. Rising Tide Society and Honeybook are an excellent resource for creatives of all kinds. Look for creatives whose work, vibes and message you really connect with. Heck, maybe even reach out and learn more about what they do and how they serve their clients.

Now think about it, is there anyone in your field that you admire? If so, you might be surprised to find that they may offer courses, guides or workshops in order to help and teach creatives just like you looking to learn more and up their game.

I’m not saying you need to make it your personal mission to be besties with every creative individual who crosses your path or give away your trade secrets to just anyone with a business license. I’m not saying we should prop up failing businesses that don’t serve their customers well. What I am saying is - lift others up! Enter into other’s joy! Be open to the fact that you can learn from someone else and maybe they can learn from you, too.


Expand your horizons.

My tribe isn’t just a “photographers only” club. Don’t get me wrong, I love us, but have you ever seen a gaggle of photographers try to go anywhere? It’s like herding cats! “Do it for the gram,” is our mantra and we can’t walk more than 10 feet without having our insta-wives snap us laughing and looking away in some idyllic spot with delicious lighting. Within my tribe are copy editors, personal coaches, real estate agents, floral artists, production managers, wedding planners, branding gurus, venue owners, cupcake bakers, dress designers, and my list could go on…

When you’ve hit a roadblock sometimes you can be too close to the situation to see all the viable options, it can be incredibly refreshing to have a new viewpoint from someone else. Not only that, bouncing ideas off others can reignite your passions if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or burnt out.

Since I've stepped out of my comfort zone and applied the idea of community over competition into my daily life, not only has my business benefitted, but I'm growing into a person that finds joy in not only my success, but the success of my peers.  If you're looking for somewhere to start, I challenge you to write a note of thanks to 3 people who helped you get where you are today. You might be surprised how something so simple can open doors you didn't realize where there. 

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Nikki + Michael | Married | Green Acre Campus Pointe


Nikki + Michael | Married | Green Acre Campus Pointe

I think I'm in the best "business" because, not only do I get to work with such great couples, I always end up making new friends along the way! Nikki and Michael are no exception.  From our unconventional first "meet and greet," to their fun brewery engagement shoot at Mike Hess, all the way to their big day at Green Acre Campus Pointe.  

From the beginning Nikki and Michael struck me as such an easy going, relaxed and fun couple. They met on the kickball fields, and denied they were anything more than "just friends" for a while (even though their WHOLE family knew better, haha!) before becoming FB official. Their ceremony was nothing but delightful as close family read selected verses that truly embodied the spirit of their love. Nikki and Michael's vows to one another brought both tears and laughter as they attempted to one up each other's pun-game and proclaim their love for each other and Bodie, their sweet fur baby who waited patiently by their sides. 


Ballast Point and Modern Times are two of my favorites!!

Ballast Point and Modern Times are two of my favorites!!

These groomsmen have good taste! 



Michael helped hold her vows to keep the wind from blowing them away. I'm not crying, you're crying!! 

Michael helped hold her vows to keep the wind from blowing them away. I'm not crying, you're crying!! 

High-fives all around!!

High-fives all around!!


Nikki and Michael got the party started with their first dance to "I Believe in a Thing Called Love," by the Darkness, which is a personal favorite of mine, and I was rocking out right along with them! 


Nikki and her mom got everyone on their dancing feet with "Call Me Maybe," by Carly Rae Jepsen. And they danced the night away! 

It's FUNFETTI!!! I wanted it ALL. 

It's FUNFETTI!!! I wanted it ALL. 

Rose gold wedding bands make my heart happy! 

Rose gold wedding bands make my heart happy! 

Thank you Nikki and Michael for choosing me to capture such a kickass day in your lives!! Now let's go grab a drink! Call me, maybe? ;)



Venue |  Green Acre Campus Pointe

Coordinator   Stephanie Muse  -   Creative Affairs Inc.   

Floral Artist |    Finest City Florist

Wedding Dress |     The Bustle Del Mar  

Wedding Dress Designer |   Stella York

Cake Artist |     Flour Power

DJ |    Thomas Giglio Events

Makeup Artist |    Lindsey Balcazar

Hair Artist |     Jackie Silva

Rentals |    Abbey Party Rentals




5 Tips to get the most from your wedding photography


5 Tips to get the most from your wedding photography

So you’re engaged! YAY! You’ve set a date, painstakingly selected the perfect venue, started on your guest list, maybe you’ve even found the dress of your dreams. But now comes the daunting task of selecting a photographer. There are a lot of us. There really are. I get it. I do! And we come in all sorts of styles, price ranges, skill and experience levels. But if you’re anyone like me, then photography is THE most important thing to you.


Your photographs are the ONE thing you will have (besides each other) after the vows have been spoken, the cake has been cut, and the bouquet has been tossed. The flowers will dry up, the cake will be eaten, the bubbly will be popped, and the dress will go in the closest.


Your day will go by in a blur. It will. Trust me. BUT your photographs…those you will have forever. You will have the moments you may have missed right in your hands. Your photographer will have perfectly captured how gorgeous your bouquet is, how stunning you look in your dress, the smiles and tears you both shared during your vows, the cake you smashed in each other’s faces, the wild party and endless celebrating of your love together!


So how can you make sure you’re left with amazing photos (read: memories) after the big day is over?


1.) Research. Find a style of photography you connect with. Dark and moody, light and airy, fresh and bright, traditional and classic, rich and vibrant, heavily posed, casually candid, photojournalistic, etc. What style can you envision seeing yourself in? How does your own personal style and energy mesh with this style of photography? If you love bright colors, crisp whites, and preppy casual vibes, then chances are a photographer with a dark, moody and an avant-garde posing style isn’t going to be the best fit.  

2.) Connect.  It is equally important that you like and connect with your photographer as much as loving their work!  Aside from your main squeeze, your wedding photographer will most likely be the person you spend the most time with on your big day. We are there for everything. That’s our job! We pride ourselves on being a perfect blend of stealth-ninja meets supportive friend because we want you to feel relaxed and just be yourself. It’s important that you be comfortable with your photographer because, simply put, if you feel tense, it shows in your photos.



3.) Invest. Invest. Invest. Yes, I’m getting right to the meaty part. I absolutely know how important budgets can be. However, this is one area where I would encourage you to change how you see your budget and think of your wedding photography as an investment. Keep in mind, your investment goes hand in hand with quality. We all have heard to think of quality over quantity. That is true for photography as well.  As I mentioned earlier, your photos are the ONE thing you will have after the day is over.  Do you really want to compromise on quality?  Five AMAZING images that you LOVE to look at everyday and WANT to frame in your home will always win out over fifty so-so photos that you keep hidden on a usb. If the difference between having your dream photographer and not having them isn’t a huge leap in price, look at balancing your budget in other areas of less importance.



4.) Let go of Pinterest. Yes, I said it. Blasphemy, I know! While pinterest is an excellent resource for inspiration, it is just that. Inspiration. It is a great way to explore ideas you may want to incorporate into your day, find a color scheme that you love, or even (ahem) find your vows. However, Pinterest may actually be your undoing when it comes to your photography. You didn’t hire the photographer that captured those Pinterest worthy poses, you hired your own amazing photographer because you loved their work.


With that being said...

5.) Trust.  Above all else, trust your photographer!  You’ve done your research, you love their work, and you love them! You’ve invested in an excellent wedding photographer, who absolutely loves what they do. Which is to serve you! So LET them. They know how to find the best lighting, the best locations, and the best poses to flatter you and your love. Trust that you couldn’t have chosen a better photographer for your big day, and let them WOW you! So when your photographer says to you, “Pssst….Hey, let’s sneak out of the reception to catch some sunset photos!”  Trust that they know you’re about to get some KILLER shots.