In various life stages, the same word can take on different meanings. I’m not a huge sports fan, so up until recently when I heard the word team, my mind went to elementary-school PE class.
Ugggghhhh… team. Never the captain and almost always chosen last (sometimes second to last). While it was a terrible feeling, I certainly didn’t blame my classmates. My athletic abilities are null and void, my coordination is that of a toddler and I was in the midst of my childhood pudgy stage (we all had one of those, right?). And never mind the fact my legs were so white they were almost translucent, appearing bluish.
My husband has worked in teams for decades with Frito Lay North America, and my clients hire me to take team portraits. It seems like everyone was part of a team, from my elementary-school crush Jeff, to my clients. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had Jenny (literally the best solo move I have made in Photography by Misty’s 16 years) for six years now and, of course, the hubs and I are a team, but those seem more like duos.
Fast forward …. A lot of years since the 6th grade, the word TEAM just last year started to take on a meaning which packed a lot of pretty punch for me. In 2018, I developed a team of true experts in their fields: Destination Transformation , which I will talk about more in a later blog. Also, in 2018 I was accepted into Leadership Plano. It was so much fun, so enlightening and . . . I got to be a part of a lot of different teams. Sure, we were a team of 36, but we were also teams of 18, sometimes 6, sometimes 9, depending on the day, the activity. We had to learn to work together, assume leadership roles, and even trust people whose names we had not yet ingrained in our brains.
Maybe it was through this leadership program where my mindset of team started to translate to building my own team. In 2017/2018, I did have the very talented Christian working as a videographer and associate photographer, but I knew that soon he would need a full-time job with benefits, and then it would just be Jenny and myself again. We’ve made a lot of progress together, but my mind had started to envision a marketing expert, consistent assistants, a photo editor, several associate photographers and, eventually more big personalities in various other roles.
We’ve come a long way in a very short amount of time. A year ago, Jenny asked if she could start taking pictures. She had always been the Girl Behind the Curtain (a name she proudly gave to herself). Hmmmm… yes, please. She has started taking over a lot of the event photography and the smaller family and high-school senior portraits, while still updating the website, posting blogs and writing the newsletter.
When Ariel, who I met while she was working at the Plano Chamber left her role, I inquired about her experience growing up as the daughter of a full-time photographer. She wasn’t interested in getting behind the camera, but she was happy to jump in and do other things (her dad just asked her not to embarrass the family). Ariel is everything from a willing shoot assistant to a delivery girl and a lot of vital roles in between. When I was on the hunt for other photographers (am still interested in finding more), it was Ariel who waded through the candidates and set up the interviews. And that’s where we found Justin. Way to go, Ariel!!
Oh, Justin. He is an answer to a prayer I hadn’t even prayed. During the interview, he offered to edit portraits. What? Yes, yes and yes!! Let’s get this party started. Justin has really freed up my calendar by not only editing, but billing, working up new marketing campaigns and . . . he will be taking care of all product photography services. I’m more in love with people than inanimate objects, and Justin will be great at creating scenes and scenarios for products from orthopedic devices to fun food products.
Then there’s Kenneth, who my family has known and loved for several years now. As a former youth pastor at our church, I knew he was great with people, and I also knew he was a phenomenal photographer. With Kenneth, we at Photography by Misty will be able to say YES! more often, and know you’ll be in great hands whether it is First Communion portraits or Dallas headshots. I kinda think of Kenneth as a male version of myself (it’s a compliment, Kenneth, I promise).
More than likely if you book with Photography by Misty, you will work with Angie or Patricia as an assistant. Angie and I have known one another since our children were itty bitty students at St. Mark Catholic School. She’s excited by the opportunity, and that enthusiasm is beneficial in our business and ultimately meaningful for our clients. Patricia may be only 16 years old, but this girl is unbelievably mature and is a great photographer herself. When Patricia was much younger, she attended two of my children’s camps, and I have even taught her on a one-on-one basis. Of course, before we know it she’ll be headed off to college just like my former assistant Amanda, who is now studying photography at the University of Texas. So proud of my girl Amanda.
Last but not least, every momma’s dream: my son has taken over my Instagram account. With the exception of John Michael being an occasional assistant (more often a photo bomber), my children haven’t been involved in my business in 5 years. Rhy used to be everything from a set designer to a model. I am uber thankful for John Michael (Jayem, JM, John, John John… I really never know how he’ll introduce himself) stepping up to the plate to not only take over my story, but continue to educate himself by researching and taking classes to up our on-line game. Now, if he could just get Alex Guarnaschelli to give me creds on my Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen pic.
Yes, these peeps have already helped Photography by Misty grow. This team thing means much more than money to me, though. We are also better serving our clients. And, even more importantly, I have the Southwest Airlines mantra (in part): “We are committed to provide our team members … with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.” I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to help my teammates learn, develop and thrive. And, as I have told each of them, ”If you help me succeed, you will reap the benefits (yes, financial as well as all that other stuff).”
And, if I am being honest, one of my fave parts is the decisions within Photography by Misty are not made by just me anymore. I have hired people who I can trust to problem solve when I am not around and who I feel overall make me a better business owner. Most of my team members are young, fresh, full of ideas, and we are all servant leaders.
In hindsight, I am much happier being able to choose my teams today than I would have been as a shy and awkward uncoordinated white girl. I am more confident as someone who gets her life juice from other people’s energy and who happens to own a photography studio.