The 7 Ugly Truths

I was encouraged recently by a fellow photographer (who is also an amazing writer) to “Write one honest thing”. I read her blog post about it yesterday, and mulled over it for the day, thinking to myself – if I make my blog only about what’s on my mind any given day, what would it become? See, I often write in advance, and schedule posts out. That’s the engineer in me – always trying to get ahead and be prepared.

Instead, today, I figured I’d sit down and really think about what I want to say this Tuesday. Where is my world? What’s going on in my mind? And, well, to be honest, when I think about today is one of those tell my trainer that I want to do anything that involves punching kind of workout days.

Every time I look back on where I’ve come in a year, I realize that I’ve learned a ton in just a short twelve months, and this past twelve months I learned the real reason that so many photography studios go out of business – they’re great shooters, but they can’t handle the pressure. My skin and upper lip have got a lot tougher this year, and therefore, today’s post I present to you (in one little I’ll just make this one post and not twelve in a series) The Ugly Truths of Being a Small Business Owner:

Truth #1: Every three months I write a check to the Federal Government that could easily send Brad and I on an exotic two week vacation to Bora Bora. Each time I write it, there’s an emphasized comma in the number, and each time I put a stamp on the envelope I whisper goodbye, my friend.

Truth #2: It’s difficult to set business hours. Truth be told, I’ve answered emails at 11pm, when really I shouldn’t. I’m going to try and be better about that. Then again, once I didn’t return a phone call on a Sunday in an effort to set boundaries and was threatened with legal action as a result (nope, not kidding).

Truth #3: Daytime television blows. If anyone thinks it’s so great to be your own boss because you can watch TV and nap whenever you want, they’re sorely mistaken. There’s nothing I hate more than Dr. Oz and his gross stories!

Truth #4: I have to be a content machine. Which means that I always need to read up, think up, and shoot (was gonna say up….but… perhaps not..) a lot! My blog is a hugely vital part of my business and I run into writer’s block just about every time I sit down to write. And then I have to pray that what I say is remotely interesting. Nothing like hearing crickets in the comments section (*hint hint*)

Truth #5: I got denied for health insurance when I applied. Wow, that was weird to tell you about, but I did. I’m in the process of appeal right now, but seriously if we’re shooting and I suggest something dangerous, be a friend and tell me not to do it. It makes me frustrated, especially because I’m a consistent gym go-er, non-smoker, who tries to stay pretty healthy. The system…

Truth #6: I’m a struggling artist. No, business isn’t struggling, but I struggle with a lot of “what is my vision” type of realities. It’s like a Catch 22 – anytime I approach an event very methodically, it stifles a bit of my creativity, and every time I release more creativity, I allow for the potential of missing something else as a result. It’s a tough balance that I struggle with a lot, especially during weddings.

Truth #7: It’s tough to be the mean guy. There are times when I have to, and it totally stinks, especially because I come to really adore my clients. But sometimes I have to step up and do what’s right for myself and my business, and then I turn into a 5-year-old in a Red Rover game wondering if I’ll ever get picked again. Then I cry to mommy. Still do. I love her.

All of this said, I think with any job there’s a down side. I do get to listen to music as loud as I want in my office, and I am able to schedule my gym appointments during the slow times for increased cardio options. I do have amazing clients, and I love the challenges being my own boss provides. I have got to know my mail lady better, and watch my orchid bloom three times this year (is that strange?)

PS – Anyone watching the Bachelor? There are some crazies on there!


  • Donna says:

    Hi Leeann! Love Truth#7, it IS tough to be the mean guy because I do want to be liked and join in other reindeer games lol! Thanks for sharing your truths with us. It helps to know that other people face some of the same experiences. Especially photographers as talented as you are. Take care!

  • Erin says:

    No crickets here! Loved this post. Can’t wait to see you in Vegas. xo

  • Chris DiDomenico says:

    LOVE it! We feel the same about everything you said! 🙂

  • Melissa O says:

    All of these are SO TRUE! I deal with each and every one of them every day. I like to tell people that owning your own business is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but in turn, it’s also one of the most rewarding.

  • Love it! Soooo true! Keep being amazing, girl! 🙂 xoxo

  • Katie Baucco says:

    Hi Leeann! Thanks for sharing and kudos to you for creating such an amazing and successful business. From a fellow engineer, I can imagine the challenges of moving in to a creative field like photography. But honestly, you seem to make it all work so well! As a previous client of yours, I have to say that we were thoroughly impressed with both your creativity and your ability to run a business. Keep up the great work!! And thanks for capturing such a special day in our lives.

  • Liz Hanna says:

    Truth #2 – you did respond to a couple of emails from me at like 10PM, and I’m not even technically one of your brides yet! I have to admit though, I do the same thing and I don’t work for myself…must just be that we are dedicated to our jobs (which is definitely not a bad thing, quick responses are always appreciated). But I certainly can’t imagine being threatened with a lawsuit because I didn’t answer my phone!

    Also, The Bachelor is amazing this season – I don’t know how they find these people but I’m sure glad they do!!

  • Linda says:

    It’s a truth (sorry Lee, not a ugly one), you have a family that is more proud of you than we can say!
    p.s. regarding #7, it is always okay to cry to your mommy~

  • Aliy says:

    health insurance for the self employed is a joke. We had it, but it cost more than those awful checks we send uncle sam. 🙁

  • Tracy Travaglio says:

    This post right here is why you’re one of the best wedding photographers out there. I think your clients (at least *this one*) really appreciate your honesty and your real-ness (totes just made that word up). I plan on reading your blog and looking at your website long after my wedding, not just because your art is unbelievable, but also because it’s enjoyable to read! Stay your path, cause it’s a great one.

  • Dave says:

    I’m convinced they profile the people on reality shows and purposely pick the least stable individuals they can!
    Great post about the realities of working for yourself too!

  • Tracey says:

    I can honestly say you are one of my “go to” websites. You’re blogs give me something to look forward to reading when I don’t feel like working. If you have writers block, you have a great way of hiding it. I’m not so secretly obsessed with every picture you take and everything you write. I wish I could get married again just so you could keep taking my picture. I think you are doing a great job and I hope you are able to keep with it for as long as you want. The down-sides of everything help to make the good-sides shine even brighter.