Last week, the results of the San Diego A-List contest were revealed – and Allison Shamrell Pet Photography was awarded FIRST PLACE! I’m so incredibly excited to be named the Best Pet Photographer in San Diego!!!
When I moved here last year, honestly, I was scared. I had no idea what the future held. I didn’t know if I could keep my business going in a new city, a place much bigger than where I had come from. I was optimistic, sure, and ready to work my booty off – but there were no guarantees. I was so, so thrilled when those first few inquiries came in, just as excited as I was back in 2010 when my first-ever clients came calling. It was a humility check, to go from the top of the market in Pensacola to the new kid on the block in San Diego. I saw the looks on people’s faces when I said “I’m a photographer, but I’m new to San Diego,” knowing that anyone could describe themselves that way… so why was I any different?
So if you’d told me back then that I’d be voted San Diego’s Best Pet Photographer just one year later, I probably would have laughed you out of the room. And even when the voting started several weeks ago, I shrugged and thought “well, we’ll see how this goes.” So Mr. Shamrell voted for me, and so did my mom, haha (thanks again Mom!). But then so did people that had seen my work on Facebook. Then my clients started voting for me… and even more than that, I heard from several clients that passed the link on to their friends & family! One client emailed me and said “I have already heard back from 3 friends that they voted for you. Sent it out to about 13 so hopefully they will all vote.” I was floored! Absolutely stunned! Linda, Colleen, Sarah, I’m looking at you – I owe you HUGE thanks for spreading the word larger than just my network of people. Receiving that kind of support was an incredible feeling.
It’s so often that when challenges come up, and we overcome them – well heck I’m really talking about myself, so okay, when I overcome a certain challenge – no matter how big or how small, by the time it’s resolved, there are five more issues on my plate to work through. Five more sessions to edit, five more albums to design, etc. So I get trapped in this cycle of working hard, and achieving the result I wanted, but not taking the time to celebrate or even acknowledge that it’s done because I suddenly have other things to deal with. The life of a business owner, right? So I think that if the San Diego A-List didn’t exist, I would have spent this time working with clients as usual, and never known that I needed to slow down and say, wait a minute, this was successful. My first year in business here was better than good, it was great, and it deserves to be celebrated! So this award has been a personal blessing, simply because it made me stop and realize that the awful fear & uncertainty I was feeling last year has gone away. And maybe I wouldn’t have realized that without the San Diego A-List; maybe I would have kept working and thinking “well at least I’m still here, right?” … Well, it turns out, I’m more than just “still here”. And for me, this is a great reminder to acknowledge and celebrate that!
Another part of what makes this so incredible is the fact that I have great relationships with the other pet photographers in town. I really do! Terran, Jen, Mike & Tee, just to name a few – I know them all personally and they’re truly great people. We all have different styles, and the right client for me is simply a different person than Mike & Tee’s ideal client. We offer entirely different experiences, and when I can tell that someone is looking for an experience that’s more in line with what they have to offer, I’m quick to refer that person to them, because I know it’s simply a better fit. Sure, we’re all photographers – but we’re all so different! In fact, want to know something that will probably sound crazy? I don’t believe in competition. I really don’t. Not when you have a potential client that’s willing to shop around, investigate different photographers, and take a look at their styles & personalities. At that point, that person will almost always end up gravitating toward a certain photographer… because that’s the best fit for them! I absolutely love it when my clients say they found me via Google, because then I know they’ve done their research! And at that point we always get along fabulously, and the experience is exactly in tune with their expectations, if not better. Now that’s a match made in heav- er, Google! :)
I know I’ve rambled a bit here… it’s just because winning this award brings up several different feelings for me. It’s not as simple as “yay I won” – it means a LOT more to me than that. So to everyone who voted: thank you. Thank you so, so much. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. And I hope you know that it doesn’t mean – as the Best Pet Photographer in San Diego – that I’m about to sit back and relax. I’m going to keep pushing forward, keep working hard, and keep making sure each of my clients has a better experience than they could have imagined. Because that’s always been my standard – and there’s certainly no reason for it to change now!