Why we are changing the way we do business

 
Sojung and I, when we first started working together in 2013 at  WELD Dallas .   Photo by  Trey Hill


Sojung and I, when we first started working together in 2013 at WELD Dallas
Photo by Trey Hill

 

Hoyoung

I was 7 or 8 when I first picked up a camera. My family and I were at a worship event at the church my dad pastored, and I loved seeing the world through the camera lens. It was an SLR with a manual focus. I was so excited, I shot 3 rolls of film.

When the film came back, I started to doubt myself. I took too many pictures. The pictures aren’t any good. I shot these from weird angles. I shouldn’t do this anymore.

So I stopped taking pictures.

I didn’t want to be different from anyone else. I thought that everyone else must already know the correct way to do things. I wanted to fit in everywhere, even in the things I was most passionate about.

Pictured at age 3, with my sister.


Pictured at age 3, with my sister.

15 years later, I began taking pictures again when I started dating Sojung. We bought a cheap Sony camera together to remember our dates.

And I loved it.

I really enjoyed photographing Sojung on our dates. We took pictures of each other and also of random strangers in coffee shops, restaurants, and while walking around the city. We even took our own engagement photos at the Dallas arboretum. We found a rare 70 degree day in December and borrowed a tripod and a remote timer. We had so much fun laughing and taking pictures together.

On a date, enjoying a cup of coffee together, as usual.


On a date, enjoying a cup of coffee together, as usual.

And now I’ve been in business for four years. I’ve shot fashion models, family portraits, corporations, several clothing lines, and I’ve traveled around the country taking pictures. I’ve met some incredible people, I’ve learned from some of the best photographers in the world, and I’m so grateful for this life.

But through it all, I’ve struggled to believe that my work really is valuable. I constantly struggle with comparing myself to others and being tempted to copy their work instead of trusting my instincts. I worry that I’m not good enough. I still want to fit in and just be like everyone else

Now I’m realizing that living in fear and doubting myself won’t lead to taking better pictures. If I play it safe, I won’t ever learn more than I already know. If I play it safe, I’ll get stuck, and I’ll always wonder what could have happened if I had taken that risk and gone with my true vision to create beautiful pictures.

This photograph exemplifies my style - a one light setup against a clean background, showing off the subject's personality.  Portrait of Matt Alexander, founder of  NEED .


This photograph exemplifies my style - a one light setup against a clean background, showing off the subject's personality.
Portrait of Matt Alexander, founder of NEED.

So I’m relaunching my business to focus on taking risks and pursuing my vision for art instead of what I think other photographers would do. I’m recommitting to sharing my work, both because I’m proud of so many of the photos I’ve taken and so others can learn from my mistakes. I’m also recommitting to enjoying the wonderful gift of working with my wife, Sojung.

And I’m terrified. So much could go wrong. I could never be offered another job. I could crash and burn and embarrass myself.

But I know I need to make a change. And I’m announcing this so y'all will hold me accountable.

I still want everything to be perfect. But sometimes the imperfect pictures is just the right one.

The client may not be able to use this photo, but these are some of the typical images captured during photoshoots with children.


The client may not be able to use this photo, but these are some of the typical images captured during photoshoots with children.

There is no perfect smile, no perfect lighting, no perfect image. But this photograph does sum up my niece's personality.


There is no perfect smile, no perfect lighting, no perfect image. But this photograph does sum up my niece's personality.


Sojung

I’ve been drawing ever since I can remember. I knew I wanted to study art when I watched a behind-the-scenes special by Disney artists on their animation process.

It was a VHS tape of an anniversary edition of Winnie the Pooh. Afterward, they interviewed the artists on their animation process. I watched the video over and over again, fascinated by how different artists were responsible for drawing different characters. I knew that I wanted to be an artist, too. I practiced by drawing many different Disney characters, including princesses, castles, and animals.

Pictured at age 2. I loved coffee way before I was allowed to drink it!

Pictured at age 2. I loved coffee way before I was allowed to drink it!

But I didn’t go to art school because I was afraid that I wasn’t talented enough.

After four years of working as an art teacher, I left my students to start working with my husband. I saw how much he was enjoying being a freelancer and the opportunities to work creatively, and I knew I wanted that too.

For the past two years, I’ve worked with many great companies and individuals to design, brand, and illustrate their products and businesses. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know them and work alongside them to create designs that are both beautiful and functional.

But along the way, I started to lose track of creating work that I was passionate about. While I was creating beautiful logos and paintings for others, I neglected to keep searching for what I believed in and what God was calling me to create.

 
See more of my personal work on my blog,   MUNDANETYPE.com


See more of my personal work on my blog, MUNDANETYPE.com

 

I am continuing to search for my passion in design. This year, I’m going back to my roots and playing with type, simple line drawings, and watercolors, as well as continuing to design branding and web pages for Squarespace.

I'm excited for what the next season holds for us as Hoyoung and I continue to learn how to support each other and enjoy both our marriage and our business. It hasn’t been easy to work together so closely, but ultimately it has strengthened our reliance on each other and our reliance on God as we continue to learn how to balance our work life and our home life.

Accounting for Creatives

 
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On the last Saturday of June, I taught a class, "Accounting for Creatives," hosted by WELD. It was my first time to get up in front of a group of people and teach. I was nervous at first but it was a fabulous experience.  

Over the past ten years, I have worked as a corporate accountant and now I keep the books for my own business. I have filtered through a lot of information via tons of trial and error. For this class, my goal was share what I've found works well for me in hopes of saving my students some time and trouble.

Here are few ideas that I shared with the class.

Get your personal finances in shape.
In order to run your business well, your personal finances have to run optimally.  This is my personal belief and I stand by it -  good habits in your personal finances will go a long way in your business finances. Starting out, have an idea of how much income you need to live on and keep track of what you're spending. One tool that we use and highly recommend is YNAB (You Need a Budget).  It's one of the best investments we've made.

Name every dollar. 
Once you know what you're spending and the income you need to live on, name every dollar - budget your expenses. Whenever I say the word, “budget," I often get defeated looks from people. No one likes to do this. Trust me, I don't either. But you can't be successful without a plan.  Dave Ramsey said this perfectly: "Give every dollar a name (job)." When you give every dollar a job, you will find freedom to spend within your budget instead of second guessing whether or not you can afford to eat out with a friend or buy those new shoes.

Be proactive. 
One of the most important changes we had to make was to stop being reactive. Here is how we used to do things: we kept our books and tracked our income and expenses. However, all of it was in vain because we were not planning for or anticipating future (expected or unexpected) expenses. If there had ever been large unexpected expenses, the business could have easily tanked and we wouldn’t have seen it coming. Now, we plan for future expenses and this helps us think about the future of our business. Being proactive creates freedom for the business to grow exponentially. Thank you to Jesse @ YNAB for sharing this knowledge.

Separate business and personal finances.  
Even if your business is running as a sole proprietorship, you should have at least one personal checking and one business checking. Running your business with one bank account will be a tax and audit nightmare. I can assure you that IRS would prefer to see two separate accounts. Plus, it's so much easier on yourself to separate the two accounts.

Give generously.
Not everyone will agree with this, but there is so much joy in being giving.  The more we grow, the more opportunities we have to give to other people.  If your goal is to just become rich, I challenge you to look deep in your heart to see if that will really satisfy you.

 

The feedback from the class was so positive that we are offering the class once again in the near future.  Also, we are planning to offer a 6-week course on peronal/business finances.  If you want more info about either or both, feel free to put your name and email below.  We will connect you.

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a new start.

When we were planning for our wedding, Sojung and I both knew that if we dropped tens of thousands of dollars on a wedding, our hearts would ache. Instead, we wanted to devote our marriage to giving and loving on others. Of course, people had their opinions, and even commented on our less conventional honeymoon destination to Seattle.  But we stood firm on our decisions and did what we felt was right for us. I created a website and named it SOHOSTORY; through the blog, we shared how we were going against the norm. After the wedding, we shut down the website knowing that SOHOSTORY would continue on as something more.   

Within the first six months of our marriage, it was clear that I was not meant for a 9-5 job. With much prayer and consideration, we knew it would be best for me to quit my career as an accountant and become a professional photographer. So I setup a new website under the name SOHOSTORY.

For the past two years, SOHOSTORY has been known a photography business. When Sojung decided to quit her job as a teacher to pursue illustration 8 months later, she registered her business name as Merelypaper. She assumed that I wanted SOHOSTORY to be a photography only business. This was never my intention; I just never communicated this to my wife.

Our name tags from the ECHO Conference in July 2013, when Sojung had been freelancing full time for only two months.

Our name tags from the ECHO Conference in July 2013, when Sojung had been freelancing full time for only two months.

It was out of pure insecurity and not being honest with myself that Sojung did not know.  In my heart, I was against her going in her own direction with Merelypaper, but I couldn’t say no because I didn’t want to change what I had already built with SOHOSTORY as a photography business.  And partly, I thought it was a good idea to separate ourselves. So many people told me that “a husband and wife should never work together.” I should not have listened them.

Sojung started freelancing in June of 2013 and as the year went on, I knew something was wrong.  As our separate business grew we were also growing apart in both marriage and business.  Don’t get me wrong, we work hard on our marriage and we have a pretty awesome relationship.  However, since we weren't working on the same projects and ran on different ideas, it took a toll on our personal lives.  We had completely different schedules, communicated less, and got caught up in our own busyness.

A couple of months later, I apologized to Sojung and explained that doing our business together was what I really wanted, that we should have from the beginning.  After a long and honest talk, we made the decision to combine our businesses and formed an LLC together, co-owners of SOHOSTORY LLC.  At that point we had no idea what that meant so it was simply about sharing a business name and adding another joint bank account to our names.

I had the idea of working together in my head, but I was way too insecure to really do it.  Being a former accountant doesn’t help either.  My mind operates very logically and making huge changes to work together just didn’t seem like the logical thing to do.  So we went about our ways as one photographer and one graphic designer.

Photograph by Trey Hill

Photograph by Trey Hill

After a day of goal setting and business planning for 2014 on the first Saturday of this month, we both left feeling very uneasy.   Later that night, Sojung shared the video of Megan Gilger’s talk from the Circles Conference.  After watching it, I felt completely helpless and didn’t know how to deal with it.  I sent an email to Sojung explaining my fears and insecurities.  I started off with "sorry about not being able to really tell you what i want.  i still feel like i am alone in this. it’s not easy telling anyone how i truly feel. in my head all this is not possible.”  I went on to explain that I want to create and work together but my head fights against it daily.

With constant prayer and many conversations, we decided to make a big change in our business once again.  I am sure we will make many mistakes and tweaks along the way, but we will always share our stories of oneness as a married couple through SOHOSTORY.  

Photograph by Trey Hill

Photograph by Trey Hill


SOHOSTORY is not just a business; it is our story.