Hi there, I'm Manali! A wedding & portrait photographer serving DC, VA & Worldwide. Click through for all my favorites from recent sessions, adventures and travels, as well as tips & tricks for clients! Grab a cup of coffee, relax, and feel free to connect with me elsewhere as well! Cheers to you!
Manali Photography is a wedding & couples' photography business based out of Washington D.C. and Charlottesville, VA. When she's not making couples laugh or editing for the fastest turnaround time you ever did see, you might find her with family & friends at a vineyard with cheese & rosé to share! Cheers!!
I worked as hard as I could to start and build the amount of momentum that I needed to make this a reality. I read everything I could find on time management, was as focused and streamlined as I could be and was still running myself ragged from working so much and traveling so much for photography. I went 10 weeks without a weekend free over the spring, drove 4,000 miles in one month (springtime for photographers be cray), and knew that if I kept going at this pace I was going to burn out and become really miserable. The business was doing really well, but emotionally I was hitting a wall. My job at Accenture kept getting busier and busier throughout the summer into the fall. I’d get requests to do things during the weekend or work longer hours to keep up with the pace of it which made scheduling photography related things difficult. It became impossible to get out of work at a certain time. I started to skip out on breakfast first and then lunch because there was simply not enough time to get everything done from 9 to 5 and I tried to avoid working late because that was cutting into time working on the business. I started to question how long I could keep balancing both without going crazy. I was starting to see the hustle affecting my relationships and my health in really negative ways. It was not pretty.
GUYS. Eight hours of sleep, eight cups of water a day, working out and EATING all three meals. You need it. No matter how crazy things get, the moment you let that go everything else kinda starts to crumble. There were two weeks in June where emotionally, I was a mess. I knew I had to meet with my career counselor to figure out whether to stay at the project I was currently at for work or to switch to another. I knew I had to stay at Accenture for a minimum of one year so I was tied until November.I also had to decide whether I was going to stay in Ballston and find a new apartment come September. So before that meeting I was torn between switching projects, switching to another company and figuring out whether I could take my own business full time. And by that time, I knew I would hit saving up one years worth of living expenses if I stayed in Ballston and didn’t make a single penny from taking my business full time.
SO I decided that I was going to do it. I was going to make the leap. This was scary because I had some weddings booked for 2019 but no where near a full set of weddings for the year. However, based off of how much I had made the previous year from photography with only 3 weddings and taking other portrait sessions, I knew if I could cut my business expenses that I could make at LEAST that same amount of money this upcoming year. Cutting business expenses would be tough since guys, it is PRICEY running a photography business! You have to pay for business insurance, website hosting/designing, a client management system, a gallery system, Adobe Lightroom, Quickbooks to organize everything, and a whole slew of other things to keep a consistent client service and to keep growing the business! But, by that point I would have my full set of gear and not be investing thousands of dollars to fill my bag with lenses & flashes that I needed for weddings as well. Deciding to move back home would save me SO MUCH money on a monthly basis for rent.
I decided I didn’t want to live paycheck to paycheck and that I wanted to keep growing my savings (because when you don’t have an employer you gotta pay for your 401k) and decided to move back home. I started calculating what I would need on a strict monthly personal budget, how much I wanted to keep contributing to my savings account and how much I would need to make from photography in order to PAY myself that much each month as well as have enough money to pay my taxes and continue to invest in the business and keep growing it. This gave me a number of weddings at a certain price point that I would need to hit. And come the fall, ALL the work that I was putting in over the last year and half had really started to pay off and I started getting a consistent stream of client inquiries for weddings! Slowly but surely, I started to come closer and closer to the number of weddings I’d need but still it was a little bit of a leap of faith since I was only halfway to what I’d need by my last day at work. This was honestly kind of scary since now there was no looking back. That was it! I had hit my savings goal but I still needed to book more 2019 weddings. But almost immediately after I left my job, the bookings started to accumulate. And before I knew it, I hit my goal for weddings I wanted to book in 2019 and have since then UPPED that goal to be even more ambitious!!
I am now SO pumped for 2019 and SO grateful that I made the switch when I did, believed in myself, and have continued to work really hard towards building the business even more after going full time. I love that I have the freedom & flexibility to travel for myself now! I am so thankful that I’ve been able to reign it in to solely working 8 hours a day, being able to prioritize self-care & relationships again! But most of all, I’m super grateful for my parents who might not have totally agreed with my decision but supported it anyways and to all of my clients who have believed in me and trusted me to capture their weddings! I’m excited to see what this year will bring and how the business will grow from here! So with all this, I just want to encourage you if you’re still reading at this point. You can watch other people live a life they love and dream about it from the sidelines OR you can get over your own excuses about why that can’t be you, take some action and be amazed at what comes out of hard work, consistency and pushing yourself to be better. It’s a matter of making it a priority in your life, investing the time into it, letting your passion be greater than your fear & working towards it day by day!
If you missed the earlier parts of the series, check them out