We had the good fortune of connecting with michelle lillywhite and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi michelle, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
I’ve always been a person who prioritizes my family and my own mental wellbeing over my work, so my work has always come third. I realize that I cannot love and serve my clients well when my own cup is not full. Every year I try to reevaluate how I am booking out my year to make sure that my workload is sustainable but also joyful. It’s so easy to get caught up in the idea that you have to book more in order to be more successful. I’ve learned that with the right pricing strategy and budgeting, you can live a life you love while and feel fulfilled and satisfied with your workload. Over time, I’ve increased my prices and this has enabled me to invest in client systems and myself.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve been doing wedding + family photography for ten years now! I’ve built a brand around connection + comfortability. I love helping my clients feel comfortable and themselves in front of my lens. I know that having a big camera in your face isn’t always comfortable, and I love showing them that their story is beautiful and wroth treasuring. My journey to get to where I am today has definitely not been linear, but I’ve continued to push forward despite difficulties that have come up. Owning a small business is a constant practice in not taking things personally and continuing to innovate and persevere when times are tough. I’ve learned the biggest way to grow is to try new things and not let failure stop you. I’ll never forget when Instagram became a big thing and I was so hesitant to switch over from Facebook. I tried to stand my ground but slowly Facebook started fading away and Instagram became the next big thing. Because I was hesitant to change, I missed out on growth professionally and personally. Now, when new trends come up I try to jump on them quickly and be open to both learning and failure. This has really helped me as we are in a constantly changing industry. No matter what is going on in the industry though, I always try to keep reminding myself of serving my clients first. I am in a very saturated and competitive industry and it’s the service of my clients that keeps me going back to the heart in my business. Followers, money, all of that fades away when I remember that I am telling a story. It’s these stories that keep me doing what I do. The precious moments of a couple who’ve just said I do, toasts from their favorite people, or the way a brother loves his new baby sister continue to make me tear up and feel like this is exactly where I am meant to be.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
San Diego is simply the best city! We live close to La Jolla so we would definitely do a day trip over to Marine Street beach and maybe stop at El Pescador on the way home. It’s our favorite fish market. The next day, we’d go down to Little Italy for lunch and bring the kids to Waterfront Park. We’d get ice cream at Salt + Straw afterwards. In the evening, we’d head to One Paseo and we’d grab Cava for dinner. If it was fall, we’d head up the 8 to the mountains and check out the fall foliage. In the spring, we’d head out to see the desert wildflowers of Anza Borrego. There’s truly no shortage of things to do here in San Diego!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband Spencer Lillywhite has always been my biggest business supporter. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him. My friend Natalie Schutt Photography has been a business encourager and friend to me who I go to with questions and also for encouragement spiritually and emotionally when it comes to business stuff. The San Diego Wedding Photographer community has always been there for troubleshooting and a safe place to talk to with issues that come up when running a small business.

Website: http://lillywhitephotography.com
Instagram: http://instagram.com/michellelillywhite
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michellelillywhite/
Other: Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lillywhitephotography/

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