Accountability Groups are the Bomb | Photography Educator


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Consider this a love letter to my accountability group, easily one of the best things to come out of 2020.

Three of us came together because we were on the same journey toward creating a digital course and we wanted to hold each other accountable in the process. Originally, we planned to have a chat over zoom once a week to make sure we were staying on task and getting things done. 

And the group grew into something so much more. 

I mean, maybe it is the PMS talking but I could just cry at the thought of what this group of women has meant to me. For the past 5 months, these women have quite literally, been my lifeline

The group (which grew to 4) has been a constant companion, a source of troubleshooting, a place to vent and laugh, and just a dear friendship that was born out of the common threads of course creation and the photography industry. 

On the surface, you might look at us and see that we literally could not be any more different. Our families look different. Our photography businesses look different. Our ideal clients are different. Our sense of humor is different. Our sense of style is different. And we cover all 4 of the main zones of the United States.

But we fit. And it is freaking magic. 

To be honest, when we started this journey back in September, I saw it as one more commitment to add to my calendar. I knew I was taking on a lot just in the process of creating a course so I wasn’t sure how I would have time for this too. But, I was wrong. This group has never felt like a chore

I can show up as I am and ask dumb questions and share my failures and voice my fears and I am lifted up. 

These women can call me out, point out crap that needs to change, and tell me to calm down… and I know it is out of love because they really do want me to do it right and succeed. 

On the other hand, I can share my wins and excitements no matter how big or small they are and these women will celebrate with me. Sometimes it is a text or a congratulatory facetime or just a hilarious gif. But we always celebrate well.

These women have literally poured hours and hours and HOURS into me and the creation of my course. And I did the same for each of them. 

And I would do it again in a heartbeat. 

All of our courses are out into the world now and our group is not dissolving. 

In fact, threats have been made in the event anyone tries to pull out of the group… we will hunt them down and force a text thread on them. So, sorry not sorry, y’all are stuck with me.

The point of this story is not to brag. It is to highlight the importance of community. 

If you do not have industry friends, you need to get some. Put yourself out there and make some. Like yesterday. It might take time. And it definitely feels awkward in the beginning. But having industry friends and supporters will LITERALLY change the game for you. 

Having been a photographer for 10 years now, I am really lucky to have a lot of industry friends.  I have built relationships out of different experiences, some in person and some online. And I nurture them. Because industry friends are important. 

This is one of the gifts that I want to offer my own students. Not just a relationship with me but, more importantly, with the other students. Yes, I want them to leave my course with incredible business knowledge but also with industry friends that will be around for the long haul. 

So, in case you are wondering who these incredible women are…

Colie James She is a color-loving, mega sarcastic, technical genius, and industry powerhouse. And one of my mantra’s is “Do what Colie says.” Because she knows stuff. And she won’t steer you wrong. 

Jess Koehler– She loves a bright lip and her cheerleading skills are off the charts. She has been able to talk me out of a panic like no one else. And has been a photographer for an insane amount of time so her eye is incredible. Her work is the perfect blend of classic and SoCal boho and she has a heart for regular Mommas capturing great images of their kids. 

Annemie Tonken– She was the late addition to the group but man, we are so lucky to have her. She is a mega leader in the industry and offers the best advice for the rest of us since she has gone before us in the course creation world. She is the quiet, supportive type who offers the best wisdom and puts up with the insane text thread that Colie, Jess, and I started. (Also, she has her hands in all the things… Her photography business, Her education business and Co-Founder of The Family Narrative)

I will leave you with two tasks today:

  • Go follow these women. Let them inspire you, encourage you, and most definitely make you laugh.

  • Reach out to someone in your industry and try to strike up a conversation. Send them a DM. Tell them what you love about their work or their stories or whatever feels right. Encourage them, be a light and see what friendships come your way.

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