Celebrating 7 Years of Langhoff Creative
This October we've been celebrating SEVEN YEARS of Langhoff Creative! On one hand, it's crazy to think it's only been that long, and on the other, it feels like it's just always been this way. Mind-blowing how time flies, isn't it?? When I think back on the last seven years, there is SO much we have learned. I thought it would be interesting to share seven of our lessons from seven years.
- Working with your spouse is amazing—and also the hardest thing I've ever done.
I left my corporate day job in 2010 to start this business. Two years later, my uber talented, handsome, dedicated husband Chad joined me full-time at home. I'd like to tell you that working with my best friend at my side for the last five years has been an absolute dream.... Some days it has been, but the truth is, we've really had to work at it. You know when you disagree with a coworker or that one guy at work really gets under your skin? Then you go home, take a breather, sleep on it and come back refreshed the next day, right? Well, when that coworker is your husband and you're already at home together (and you share a bed), there's really no avoiding the situation. We learned very early on (the hard way, unfortunately) that in order to have a healthy marriage AND a healthy work environment, we needed to understand each other's work styles, set well-defined boundaries, and utilize—as well as appreciate!—each other's strengths. Team work makes the dream work, especially when you're married to your coworker. Dynamics make a difference.
- Creativity and passion change over time, and that's okay.
When we began seven years ago, we were a graphic design business specializing in branding, marketing small businesses and helping launch ministries and non-profits with elevated identities (often using photography to further tell their stories). Before we knew it, we were mostly photographing high school seniors. Soon after that, we were photographing engagements and weddings most weekends. Now? Although Chad and I still have a handful of design clients and also shoot corporate events and occasional weddings, our business is primarily Documentary Family Photography. We've always been storytellers on some level for our clients, but the expression and focus of those stories has shifted over time. I'm so glad we didn't limit ourselves to the area we began in.
- "We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps." -Proverbs 16:9 (NLT)
This verse is tattooed to my arm. It reminds me to let go and let God lead. Chad and I have always been Type-A and planner-oriented. We can make plans until we're blue in the face, but unless we fully dedicate everything we do to God, ask Him to lead & actually follow His guidance, we won't be able to have faith that He'll provide the right clients at the right times in the right ways with the right amount of attention. We've learned this lesson over and over again. Any success we have had over these seven years can be credited to God alone—our planning really isn't as great as we think it is.
- Sharing office hours with a baby / toddler is tricky biz.
THIS. This one has been our most challenging adjustment in running our business. Being work-from-home parents for the last year and a half is a skill we're still learning and refining daily as our son gets older. Ultimately, his health and development are more important than running our business, so learning to keep our priorities in order has been imperative. Also, our time management abilities have greatly improved—laser focus and our ability to maximize his nap times are now the keys to our productivity. We've adapted by taking turns working/playing off-site to give the other some focused time. There are many days we still miss working side-by-side in our home office, but tag-teaming is our current season and we're embracing it. Not a day goes by that I'm not grateful to have us both home with our son.
- Documenting important life moments has been the joy of our achievements.
Doing what you love as your job is rewarding, of course. But I never could have predicted the level of joy I get to experience every time I'm invited in to document a private, intimate event. Whether I'm photographing the union of a couple, the birth of a baby, or the interaction of a family during dinner time, I know that a family has opened their doors, chosen to be vulnerable, and decided to trust me to document their actions. Capturing & documenting the genuine, real life of families has been the most beautiful part of my "job." Not only is it an incredible honor, but I have learned an incredible amount about family dynamics and activities that has truly opened my eyes and given me a new level of gratitude.
- The key to success lies in the quality of your relationships.
Network, network, network. Yeah, yeah, yeah... But for real, our greatest "marketing" has been from positive word-of-mouth reviews from the people we have invested in. When we have intentionally spent time and energy getting to know our clients (and potential clients) for the sake of understanding them better and caring for them more deeply—not for the selfish benefit of getting something out of it—they actually want to share our compliments with their friends. The majority of our clients have come from previous clients; they are people we would not have known otherwise. This lesson was most clearly learned when we moved from Wisconsin to North Carolina, relocating our business to a brand new place where we didn't yet know anyone. Building relationships from the ground up has been an ongoing challenge over the last three and a half years, but very much worth it.
- Make a plan, wear shoes and get out of the house every now and then.
Productivity and success never happen by accident. When Chad and I agree on a plan of attack for the next day, we begin the morning physically and mentally ready to get after it. "I don't know what to do today," never leads to focused efforts, just as wearing pajamas never puts your body in work-mode. When we work from home, we get up and shower for the day, get dressed and put shoes on and everything. As soon as your shoes come off at the end of the day, you feel relaxed—work-mode can't exist if your body is at rest. When considering success, just as important as your physical mood is your mental mood. We have to get out of the house every now and then! A change of scenery is good for fresh perspective, conversations with strangers and an increase in creativity. Whenever we feel "in a rut" or "stuck" on something, we drop everything and go for a walk, grab some coffee/tea in town or go to a park or museum. Learning to pause the grind for healthy, mental resets has been one of our greatest lessons.
If you have ever been a client of ours, recommended someone to hire us, or encouraged us in any way over the last seven years, thank you. Thank you from the deepest, softest, sappiest part of our hearts. Without you, we wouldn't have pushed this far and we wouldn't feel qualified enough to continue. It is with great confidence and support that we will press onward for the next seven years and beyond. To say we feel "blessed" is an understatement.