Risk & Reward: 3 Questions to Ask Yourself

With signs in every retail store reminding me that Father's day is approaching, I've been thinking a lot about my Dad recently.  I've mentioned that he was my introduction to the world of photography, but I haven't said how important his advice has been along the way.  So I wanted to share the experience of deciding to do our first bridal fair.  

I shot my first wedding in February of 2009, worked full time for most of that year in photography, and I took a class with Kenneth Linge called "The Wedding School."  We reviewed photography techniques as well as business practices, and I felt ready to take my business to the next level - the world of bridal fairs.  It was scary.  Thomas and I calculated a $3000 budget to fund our first fair, and I didn't actually have that money at the time...  but you can make money by spending money, right?  I believe that the answer is yes, but only IF you spend it correctly.


This is where my Dad came in.  Thomas and I were considering the possibility of a business loan, knowing that if I booked at least 3 weddings at the fair it would be paid.  I talked with my dad about my fears, my concerns, but the exciting possibility of moving forward.  And he gave me the best advice I've received about making a decision with this kind of risk.


He told me to ask myself three questions:

  1. What is the best possible outcome?
  2. What is the worst possible outcome?
  3. What is the most probable outcome?


The best possible outcome?  Oh, that's easy.  I'll book 25 weddings that day and become rich and famous soon after.  The worst possible outcome?  Well, that's the scary part of risk.  I don't book a thing, I have to pay back the $3000 from our emergency savings, and I lose all self esteem.   And the most probable outcome?  I took a guess:  2-4 weddings from that fair.  But who knows!


I realized from asking these three questions that I was comfortable with the risk involved, even with the worst possible outcome.  It wouldn't ruin us financially, and at the very least, 1000 brides would see my photos and people would start to recognize my name.  So we went for it.  And after all was said and done we booked close to 10 weddings as a result of doing the fair.


I was just thinking about this experience and all I learned, and I wanted to share the advice from my Dad.  In a decision evaluating risk, I feel much more comfortable moving forward when I can ask these questions and know that I'm ok with the answers.  To any other photographers that are starting out, or anybody else thinking about taking a risk, good luck as you are making your own decisions and watching your businesses progress!


Here's a look at the booth we managed to put together for our first fair...


... And we made a few improvements for the next year.