To begin, this is a post that I have been thinking about writing for a long time – actually for almost two years. It was one I dreamed up with two sweet industry friends on an amazing weekend business trip away. It’s a post (I’m going to turn it into two posts) where I want to share who I am as Carolyn – the vision, person, and relationships behind Love Legacies by Carolyn Bentum (“the who” – this post) and how “the who” and “the why” directly influnces my business and business practices (“the how” – part two).
I am Carolyn. I am a Christ follower, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother to four beautiful children (I know I’m a little biased), I’m a twin mom (yes – I am busy but doubly blessed), I am a friend, I am a relationship builder, I am a business owner, I am a photographer, I am an editor, I am a writer, I am a goal setter, I am a reflector, I am a creative, I am a planner, I am a reader and book lover, I am an athlete, I am an introvert, I am more naturally shy and quiet, I am sensitive, I am particular, I am a hard worker.
I share these things, not to draw attention to myself, but rather I hope that by being very open with you that you will come to see me as a more “whole” person, rather than just as the one sided professional photographer that is represented in my work online. You see there is a person that stands behind the camera; one that finds so much joy in preserving the love legacies of your family but that also has to spend countless hours behind the scenes on the computer, working hard by herself to edit and complete galleries, create and mail packages, run the business, answer emails, and so much more. This same person needs to gently remind herself that I am human, I have limited time and can only give my best within reason. I need to eat, sleep, play, laugh, fold laundry, clean my house, care for my kiddos, spend time in rejuvenating relationships and activities or else I will not be able to give of my time and talents to others because I will be an unhealthy shell of a person and a passionless business owner.
I have written and then rewritten and then rewritten again this post with all sorts of different content (16 drafts actually!). I have laid out my many hats of running a business so you might be able to try and understand all of the things I am often doing on a daily and weekly basis, I have written about the impact of ill timed questions and comments and how they have left me questioning if I belong in this business, I have written about my struggles and my efforts of trying to do it all. However, in the end what I have realized in my many attempts at writing this post is that what I really want to share is a few promises and expectations that you can have if and when you decide to partner with me to preserve your family’s love legacy.
When you decide to work with me, I promise to give you the best of my talents and my care. I will dedicate myself to creating photographs that your family will cherish for many years to come. To me, these are big and bold promises in an industry that is filled with many talented artists and with business owners whose practices are all over the map. However, it’s these promises that stand alongside my core purpose of preserving family’s love legacies that will inspire great love for the future that every decision and business practice I have or am working on establishing stem from.
For me, personal care of my clients is of highest importance. I work really hard to deliver communication, galleries and packages that are personalized, thoughtful and filled with love. I find myself most disappointed when I feel a client feels not well cared for. Because of this I am going to put it in black and white, in writing, that I am not going to be the fastest photographer out there. For me care takes time. I want my care to be evident in every aspect of my client relationships from thoughtful communication, not rushing through sessions, carefully editing of the photos, creating a final package that makes clients feel loved – to me it all matters and it takes me time. By putting this “out there” I am now going to give myself the grace I need to put the care I so badly want into every single client relationship. If I’m honest in my business reflections since I first started, this is something I have always known but have been fighting against because I feel as though I should be able to keep up with the photographer next door. But I know now that this is not me. For me, care is more important than speed. Quality is more important than quantity. Relationships will always trump deadlines. How this will impact my business practices going forward will be listed more clearly in my next post so that when prospective clients want to know more about how I do what I do, they can read about my practices first and decide if they feel the same way about care and relationships before deciding to partner with me. I know in a digital world where instant brings much satisfaction and happiness that the idea of time and depth of care might seem old fashioned, but I am okay if I am not the right photographer for you. My clients will know who they are by valuing the same things I do and because of this your experience with me will be that much richer.
So in the spirit of openness and sharing, and because I believe that every blog post should include a few photos, I wanted to share a few of my weekend photos of the people I care for the most with you! These are the people who I love more than life itself. These are the people whom I’m creating a love legacy for and with and who I hope will learn the most from my struggles, challenges, opportunities, blessings and love. These are the people that inspired me to start this business and why I stay in business even on the hardest days. These are the people that I need to work harder at living more intentionally for, so that they never feel they have taken second place. These are the people that fill my heart to the brim and that I will always choose first forever. These are my people and I wouldn’t trade them for anything or anyone in the world. And so when you become a part of the Carolyn Bentum family, because these are my people, they become a little of your people too. So I hope that by sharing them with you you will be reminded of my heart for preserving love legacies and my reason why I do, and how I do what I do!