Alright friends, I thought it was time to share the story of how Laura Lee Creative came to be. This was never something I expected would be the next step for me. I was never someone who dreamt of becoming an educator or creating courses, or speaking or anything like that. To be honest, it kind of happened by accident, and I’m so glad it did!
Today, I’m going to do my best to share my story, and a timeline of events with you so you can better understand how this all came to be, and what to expect from me in the coming year!
Fall 2015 – Working a full-time job at a photo studio as an editor, after previously quitting my job at an architecture, design and build firm. Super burnt out.
I remember this season like it was yesterday. I was an editor at a commercial photo studio and would edit for eight hours a day. Then, I would come home and edit wedding photos until the wee hours of the morning. I was a zombie and incredibly burnt out, becoming more and more apathetic about my business because I had NO TIME to live my life. “Freedom” was a distant dream.
October arrived, and I was shooting weddings every weekend. I had 15 weddings that year, and I was still working on my summer weddings that fall. It was way too much. Between weddings and engagement sessions, I shot 22 days that month…on top of my full-time job.
One day, after a particularly hard week, my boss called me into his office and gave me permission to quit. He told me that he knew my business would be successful and that they’d find a replacement for me. I started to cry, and I sank down to the floor in a puddle of tears and anxiety and burn out. The weight of everything came crashing down.
I officially gave me two weeks notice that day, and my last day of work was the day before Halloween.
FINALLY, I felt like I was “free”, and that I’d have all the time in the world to do things while running my business (after all, I had an extra 40 hours a week, right!!??)
I was wrong. I was so behind on my weddings that I never really had an offseason. In between editing, culling, blogging and doing #allthethings, I KNEW I had to figure out a way to work smarter. Enter, Winter 2015-2016.
Winter 2015 – 2016. Workflows and systems begin to take shape.
As I said, I was super burnt out. For Christmas, I asked for food photography props, watercolor tools, and calligraphy pens. I was trying to do anything to get my creative spark back. And, on top of that, I wasn’t seeing the financial return for the amount of time I was putting into my weddings. I was a scattered MESS and I had to do something about it!
I channeled my mom’s organized personality, and sat down at my dining room table and started making color-coded workflows, and figuring out what could be systemized.
I started out with my wedding workflow, color coding the tasks I wanted to outsource. I rated things on a scale of 1-5 of whether I loved it or didn’t like it and then began researching who I could outsource to.
Once I had my workflow nailed down, I put it into my task management system. (I was using Trello at the time, then switched to Asana!) Now I use HoneyBook* for my client based workflows.
For the first time in almost two years, I felt like I could BREATHE, and I felt ready to take on the 28 weddings I had coming up in 2016.
Wedding Season 2016
In 2016, my business doubled from the year before. I photographed 28 incredible weddings for 28 amazing couples and did 40 portrait sessions. I felt like I was finally on top of my business, and was able to keep up with my workload for the first time, ever.
I started mentioning workflows in conversation with other photographer friends, and they started asking questions about how I created them, what my workflows and systems looked like, and how they could apply workflows in their own business.
My photographer friends would come over and sit around my firepit. We’d drink wine, eat cheese and exchange stories (and sometimes tears) about how overwhelmed they were with their workload and to-do list. The business that was supposed to give them freedom was taking over their lives.
Since I felt like I had figured out the whole “balance” thing, and my workflows were working pretty seamlessly, I decided to mentor services a few photographers and creative business owners. I started creating custom workflows for them and delivering them via a google doc for them to take and put into their CRM system.
I received an email from one client that said they felt like their business AND their marriage was saved because of the work we did together, and the amount of time I helped them save. Just days after our mentoring session, they told me they had delivered three weddings that had been in their queue for months. She said, “I feel like I’m working a bajillion times faster and more efficient, I cannot thank you enough.”
This experience lit a fire in me to help as many people as I could, so in the offseason of 2016, I began branding Laura Lee Creative as a business that empowered photographers and creative entrepreneurs to build a profitable business and fulfilling life with education designed to help save time and make more money.
January – April 2017. I saw a need in the industry and felt an inner fire to help as many people as I could with their workflows and systems.
As I mentioned, I never planned on this happening. But I felt that the industry was lacking any workflow and systems education and that it was desperately desired by so many people. Photographers and creative business owners across the spectrum were expressing that they were burnt out, less than passionate about the businesses they once loved, exhausted, overwhelmed, overworked and underpaid (based on the number of hours they were putting into their business!)
It was also during this time that my mom started working for me on a more regular basis, and kept asking questions about how I do things… so in order to avoid having to answer every question she had, I decided to make a procedure manual for Laura Lee Photography.
When I realized that NOTHING like this existed in the photography industry, I knew I needed to reach as many people as I could with this content. So, I turned my own procedure manual into a product that was mostly universal for all wedding photographer’s and began making plans to launch my first product, The Wedding Photographer’s Playbook. – The Complete Guide to the Post Wedding Workflow. Complete with workflow checklists, procedures for each task, efficiency tips, and video tutorials.
I noticed that most of the custom workflows I was creating (at least for photographers) had a foundation that was always similar, so I put this all into my 136 page Playbook for Wedding Photographer’s all over the world, and hired business coaches to teach me how to launch a product and start a newsletter list!!
Laura Lee Creative was officially born.
May 2017 – The Playbook and website launched!
May 2017 was the month that everything happened!! I launched my website for Laura Lee Creative, with the help, vision, and expertise of the ladies at With Grace and Gold for my web design.
The website launched the same day as The Wedding Photographer’s Playbook, and the same day as my first ever webinar on my own! I taught over 700 photographers how I saved over 1200 hours in the year of 2016, and how I doubled my income without working twice as much. It was the most nerve-racking thing I’ve EVER done, and I had Scott come over to sit next to me during the whole thing to keep my nerves calm. The turnout to the webinar was amazing, and so many photographers bought the Playbook, and I was thrilled to step into the role of educator and serve up amazing content to my growing community.
Stories started rolling in from photographer’s using it, and I cried every time I received an email, reading through the impact this was making on people’s LIVES AND BUSINESSES.
Here are a few favorites….
HOLY S***(!!!) This is incredible. INCREDIBLE. I’ve been a wedding photographer for over 5 years now and I have never really had a workflow. Even through mentoring and purchasing online education courses, no one has ever given me a well thought out guide to getting shit done after the wedding.
That was… until the Playbook. This system isn’t just “working for me”, it’s REVOLUTIONARY for me. My life, and not to mention, my post-production went from complete chaos to simple and organized.
It’s really the only post-production workflow any photographer needs. It is comprehensive, thorough, and detailed enough that a new photographer can pick it up and work on it with ease. It’s a brilliant step-by-step program that teaches you how to maximize productivity and work more efficiently within software that most photographers already have. The value of it far exceeds any price that could be placed on it – and ALL photographers need an efficient workflow for post-production!! I cannot imagine how much this will make my limited time easier while improving productivity and in turn create more revenue!!!
As you can imagine… May was crazy! And then, enter June!
June 2017 – The Shop Launch!
After launching The Playbook, I knew there were plenty of other resources and systems I used in my business that could be invaluable for other photographers. In June, I launched a Shop on Laura Lee Creative with a few of my templates, workflow checklists, questionnaires, and marketing guide! Currently, the shop has…
- The Complete Wedding Workflow for Photographers
- The Complete Portrait Workflow for Photographers
- Email Templates for Post Production for Photographers
- Relationship Questionnaire for Wedding Photographers
- Family Formal Shot List Template for Wedding Photographers
- Photography Workflow Bundle (Portrait + Wedding)
- Marketing Guide for Wedding Photographers (which is 90% applicable to portrait photographer’s as well!)
I am so thankful that I’ve been to help so many photographers with these resources!! You can check out the shop here.
Fall 2017 – Lots of Brand Awareness!
In fall 2017, my goal was to do more brand awareness for Laura Lee Creative. I started reaching out to blogs and podcasts to share information about workflows, systems, productivity, and organization! All the things!
I was thrilled to be on:
- Bokeh Podcast (twice)
- HoneyBook Blog
- Rising Tide Society Blog
- Natalie Franke’s Blog
- The International Academy of Wedding Photographer’s Blog
- The Strategy Hour Podcast
- This Week in Weddings Podcast
- The Wedding Pros Podcast
- (And soon to be going live) – The Creative Empire Podcast!
There was a lot going on, but I was grateful for every opportunity that came my way.
Winter 2017 – Dreams coming true!
Right before 2018 began, I fulfilled one of my dreams of being invited to be an educator during Round 8 of the Creative at Heart Conference!! I am so excited to be serving as a panelist for the Photography breakouts at the conference this November!
Creative at Heart changed my business in so many wonderful ways and I’m overjoyed to be able to pour knowledge and my passion for helping others into the photographer’s attending this round!!
January 2018 – My first speaking gig!
January flew by in the blink of an eye with so many exciting things going on! I spoke for the first time ever on a stage at the Rising Tide Society Leader’s Retreat, I spoke virtually at a workshop for another photographer, and spoke at the Virtual Photography Brand Summit presented by Ally B Designs!
It was such an honor to be asked to speak at these workshops and events. I can’t wait to continue educating fellow photographers and creatives in 2018!
February 2018 – The launch of The Fireside Retreat
February was probably the most stressful and exciting month of this entire journey. On February 1, two days before my birthday, I launched the FIRST Fireside Retreat!!!! Goodness. This dream has been in my heart since 2016, and when I hired my newest team member (who happens to specialize in event planning), we tag teamed this dream and made it come to life. Within a few hours of launching, we were more than half full!
This retreat is for creative women business owners who are ready to find a balance between their business and life, get their business organized and streamlined and scalable and most importantly find that feeling of control, renewed creative energy, and freedom.
We are tackling all things:
- Client Management and Experience
- Task Management
- Goal Setting, Mapping, and Achieving
- Scaling Your Business
- Organization + Streamlining
- And all the things I do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to achieve work-life balance
I am confident that this year is going to be the best one yet, and I am so excited to teach creatives everything I know about working smarter not harder so that they can run their best businesses and lead their best lives.
This business is built on the mission to redefine how entrepreneurs run their businesses, and their lives, proving that creatives can achieve work-life balance and grow successful, profitable businesses at the same time.
I dream of a world with more date nights, brunch filled weekends, self-care, white space, and time spent with the people that matter most to us.
If you made it all the way down here, thank you for reading my story, and for being a part of this community.
If you’re interested in working with me 1-on-1, you can contact me here! I’d be thrilled to help you get your business more streamlined and organized so that you can go out and live your life and find the freedom you desire!
If you want to learn more about workflows, today? Download my FREE guide, “10 Workflow Hacks for Photographers” below.