In this episode, Mica talks about the importance of self-care and personal growth during downtime. She shares tips for finding balance, staying inspired, and using the slow seasons to invest in yourself as a food photographer.
Your host, Mica, went to college and worked hard at jobs she didn’t love, just to make ends meet. But in her free time, she loved photography, and she especially loved taking pictures of food. So what did she do? She quit her job as an admin and started a photography business—and it changed everything.
Mica: [00:00:00] Welcome to the 21st episode of The Savory Shot, y'all. You know who I be. I be your host with the most Mica. First things first, I want to give a huge shout out and huge thank you to Kate McDermott for coming on the show. Y'all. If you did not catch that last episode, go back, give it a listen.
Mica: But I also wanna thank you, the listener for being here. Y'all, I know you've got a lot going on. You're busy, you're being pulled in a lot of different directions, so it means the world to me that y'all show up here. And share 30 minutes of yo day, yo time for me. I got a favor to ask y'all. Will you go to Apple Podcasts and answer this question, "What's the best advice you've ever received? And how did it change your [00:01:00] perspective?"
Mica: Well, let's chat about that. I'm very curious to hear what y'all have to say. But let's talk about today's episode. Y'all, I wanna talk about something so near and dear to my heart, and I know that there are plenty of y'all who have gone through the same thing. I wanna talk about what happens when shit gets slow.
Mica: You know those times when you haven't landed a shoot in months and you're wondering, "What the hell do I do next?" Y'all? How do you stay motivated? How do you embrace the down time? Because let's be real y'all. We all have those moments when the projects slow down and we're left twiddling our thumbs, wondering what to do with this, this free time.
Mica: Some of us a k a me might be having baby heart attacks cuz you know you still gotta pay them bills, right? Can I get [00:02:00] amen? Y'all just the other day I had this bomb ass conversation with my dear friend, Kristina, what's up, episode seven. If y'all wanna go back and listen to her interview. We had such a great conversation about this topic, but one thing she said that really stuck with me, she said that our jobs is up and down. It's rarely smooth, it's hard to control. However, what we can control is how we feel, and if we shift our mind to a more positive approach, it can change how we see things.
Mica: And y'all, if that ain't the truth, then put me on a train and let it fly off a cliff. I've learned that these quiet moments are actually a blessing in disguise. Yeah, I said it a blessing in disguise. I said what I said. I said what I said. It's a blessing. But before I die on [00:03:00] that hill, let's start the show.
Mica: Y'all. 2020 was an explosive year for me. It didn't start that way though. Like most of America, your girl was quarantined at home. Y'all, I was freaking out. I just raised my rates. Every lead I had coming in was far too under budget. [00:04:00] And y'all, it was scary cuz on top of worrying about my health, I was also worried about making a living.
Mica: Y'all, I tell you what, my husband's salary carried us through those months cuz I wasn't booking nothing. But y'all, it's scary when you're alone and you don't got someone else's income to land on. But y'all, I felt like a loser. I went to bed feeling like a loser, like I was wasting my time. I mean, I had school to distract me, but I also knew I was graduating in December.
Mica: So y'all, I felt the pressure. I needed the book some work. So I decided mid-January that I'm doing a shoot every week, whether it be portfolio work, paid work, school work, doesn't matter. I'm shooting. And on the days that I'm not shooting, I'm researching. Project ideas, potential clients, folks in my industry to network with.
Mica: And on the days that I'm not researching, I'm educating myself. [00:05:00] I'm reading my business books, watching online courses, and listening to podcasts. And y'all, you know what? Doing all of that, the reading the books, the shooting, the portfolio work, research, it made all the difference. My photography improved, my business skills improved.
Mica: I book new clients. I learned how to network better, and I gained some fun new skills to utilize in my future shoots. My point is this. You gotta be like Dory, you gotta keep swimming, keep moving, keep at it. When you're not shooting, you need to be reading. When you're not reading, you need to be researching, networking.
Mica: Just keep moving.
Mica: Y'all. If you're having a slow year, I want you to do something for me. I want you to go find a mirror [00:06:00] wherever you are and just look in the mirror. Don't be weird, just look in the mirror. And I want you to say, "Hey, boo, you gonna be all right. You got this," because you will be all right. And you do got this.
Mica: Y'all, when it's slow. You ain't booking no work and, and looking around and you're seeing other photographers doing all the stuff and things, and you think, "Man, I ain't doing none of that. I gotta be doing something wrong." This is the time where you need to take a step back and be kind to yourself. Yeah, that's right. Be kind to yourself.
Mica: Don't, don't say shit like, "Ugh, you suck. You, you're not booking work. You're a loser. You're not a good enough photographer. You. You're never gonna improve. Look at that one. Look at this one." You know why? Cuz it doesn't help. You dig? Being unkind to yourself, man. You might as well grab your camera and smash it against the wall cuz you're basically sabotaging yourselves.[00:07:00]
Mica: Look, the world is already a tough place to exist. Being a freelancer is a tough industry to exist in. The last thing you need is a solo Debbie Downer conversation with yourself. What's the saying? You are what you say you are. So by that logic, if you talk trash about yourself and say things like, "I'm a loser. I'm not good enough, I'll never improve, I'll never book work." Then guess what? You are a loser. You aren't good enough, and you'll never improve and you'll never book. Sounds ridiculous, right? Because it is. It is ridiculous. Y'all, listen to me. You are what you say you are. So if you say that you are a talented, hardworking food photographer, then guess what?
Mica: You are a talented, hardworking food photographer. And bitch, you deserve to treat [00:08:00] yourself with the love, respect, and dignity you give to others. One thing that my therapist told me, the way that you talk about yourself, the way that you say things to yourself, are these things that you would tell someone else? Are these things that you would tell to a near and dear friend?
Mica: If your answer is no, then boo. You should not be talking about yourself like that.
Mica: I remember my first day as a freelancer. I'm gonna tell y'all a little story. You know your girl loves some stories and I got plenty to tell. But this story is about my first day as a quote unquote freelancer. It was on a Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018. So early in the morning. Aaron just left for his day job.
Mica: I remember sitting on my couch. I was still in my [00:09:00] PJs, my pajama. And Moxy's by my side, and I remember thinking, "I can do whatever I want to do. I can get on my social media and I can just be on it. I don't have to like go to the bathroom with my phone and pretend I'm about to pinch a loaf, when really all I want to do is check my Instagram.
Mica: I don't have a boss peering over my shoulder looking at my screen. What you doing? What you doing?" I could do whatever I want today. I could do whatever I want. And do you know what I did y'all? Legit. I binge watched an entire season of Jersey Shore.
Mica: Snails did more than I did that day, y'all. I did not move from my couch except to get something to eat or go to the restroom. Aaron came home that day. He saw me. I'm still in my pajamas, my glasses on. I didn't have a bra. He's like "Is this what you [00:10:00] did all day? You just watched tv?" And I was just kind of like Dazed and confused, like, "Yeah,"
Mica: And he was like, Mica, you can't do that. And I was like, yes I can. I can do whatever I want. But y'all, he was right. He was absolutely right. My last job, it was so structured.
Mica: My boss was a micro manager to the M Power. She would. Just spy on me, look at my computer screen, check what I'm doing. I mean, it was really structured and very strict. And then you have on the extreme side where I sat home and did nothing and watched Jersey Shore, my pajamas with my dog by my side. For me, I had to find a sweet spot.
Mica: I needed some structure, maybe not as structured as my old day job, but I needed something, something to keep me focused. [00:11:00] Because otherwise I was gonna keep binge watching my favorite TV shows. So my advice to y'all during slow times, stick with your routine. Get up at the same time each day. Start your workday at the same time each day, and wrap it up at the same time each day.
Mica: My workday starts at 10 every day. Except when I have a shoot that starts at eight. But typically I start my work at 10:00 AM. I eat my lunch at one and I wrap my day up at six o'clock. Y'all, I know it sounds crazy or maybe it doesn't. Maybe you, you, maybe you're all about the structure, but for the ones who aren't, hear me out.
Mica: Sticking with the routine not only keeps you grounded, but y'all, it helps you stay focused on your goals.
Mica: Another thing I do when it's [00:12:00] slow portfolio work. Y'all don't sleep on this, like I said before, every month I shoot. Whether it's paid work or portfolio work, I make it a point to take my camera out and shoot some stuff in things cuz y'all, creativity is a muscle. You gotta work it out consistently. How else are you gonna flex?
Mica: Eh, eh, eh. All right. That was pretty corny. When things are slow, y'all, this is the perfect opportunity to do those high-concept shoots. You never get around to shooting or hey, maybe there's a, a video with the new technique you never got around to watching. Y'all, the slow time is the perfect time to get in the studio and do some weird shit is the perfect time.
Mica: To slow down and try some shit out. Cuz if you're like me, your [00:13:00] girl is a slow learner. She needs to be able to take her time. I don't do well with rushing to learn new things. I need to take my time and it's during the slow months. That's when my best work comes out because I take a, a minute, uh, more than a minute to like fuck up and make mistakes and try shit out and try this lighting tech technique out and put my whiteboard over here, or go buy some props there. This is the time where I really get to stretch and flex that muscle. So when it's busy and I got clients, I can wow them.
Mica: They think I just came up with this shit on the fly and they had no idea. No idea that your girl was practicing this months ago. You think actors get on stage and they just magically memorize and know all the lines to a play and and in an instant thing? No. That takes months. Months of rehearsals. You think an orchestra can just get up there and play notes and not mess up?
Mica: No. [00:14:00] It takes month of rehearsals. That's why portfolio work is so damn im por tent. So important. So during those slow months, Take advantage of your portfolio.
Mica: Alright, y'all, I'm about to wrap this shit up. I know y'all are busy and you don't wanna spend 30,000 years listening to me talk, or maybe you do, maybe my voice is so awesome that you just want to hear it all day, all night. But you know me, your girl doesn't like wasting people's time. So I'm gonna wrap this up real fast in a nice pretty bow just for you.
Mica: If things are slow for you right now, remember like my friend Kristina says, it's all about perspective. Now keep in mind your feelings are valid. Slow months are part of the ebb and flow of freelancing life and yes, that's frustrating as fuck sometimes, and it's easy to go, maybe I'm not cut out [00:15:00] for this.
Mica: Maybe I'm not good enough. Maybe I should look into something else. Or maybe I should find a steady job. It's easy to do those things, but what's hard to do is to embrace the down time. What's hard to do is take advantage of the downtime because we are taught that we're supposed to be go, go going, and I know I said earlier, you gotta be like Dory and just keep swimming.
Mica: It's one thing to keep swimming, but slow and steady wins the race. You don't have to move fast, you just gotta keep moving. So again, take advantage of this down time. Because when things pick back up and you're busy, you're gonna look at that slow time. You're gonna be like, take me back. Take me back. I just wanna sit for a minute.
Mica: Y'all take this slow time to find balance. Stick with your routine, maybe tweak it. Stay inspired. But y'all [00:16:00] take this time to invest in yourself, cuz believe me, you'll come out much more. And ready to take on new challenges. Seriously, y'all, thank you for your time and for listening. Y'all. Next episode drops April 12th.
Mica: I have, uh, something special for you in the works. It's an experiment. I'm not sure how it's gonna turn out, so I can't spill the beans, is, if it goes poorly then, then I'll, you know, whatever. I think y'all might like this one, but till then, y'all asta pasta. Bye