We had the good fortune of connecting with Amanda Doskocil and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amanda, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
The most important factor behind the success of my brand has been authenticity, and genuine concern for everyone I come into contact with. I am not the best photographer in the world, and I’m not on my A-game at all times, but I am transparent with my clients, I have meaningful conversations when we are together, and I share with my followers when I’m going through something. My dream client is not a person with a certain income or aesthetic, but is someone who is on the same path as myself: doing “the work,” cultivating healthy relationships, and seeking to become their most authentic self. Through my journey of enlightenment, I’ve worked to stop judging others and to lead by example when it comes to being patient, understanding, and humble. I have always thought it strange when people or businesses are able but unwilling to help others when they communicate a valid need. I will regularly go the extra mile for my clients, which generates a pattern of reciprocity. I communicate expectations clearly and effectively, I keep my word, and I follow up to make sure clients feel taken care of. During the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic I was truly touched by how many clients checked in on me, or sent me advanced payment for services because they knew this was going to be a hard season for many freelancers. These types of relationships are what push me forward and encourage me to continue serving others through my business. As Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a wedding and family photographer, so I am fortunate to work with people from all different walks of life as I document their biggest milestones. In addition to providing clients with a meaningful and transparent photography experience, I like to believe that I empower others to step into their authentic selves both in front of the camera and in everyday life. I have been a full-time photographer for almost five years now, but it has taken me a while to arrive “home” in my sense of self. This industry is rife with competition and you can easily get sucked into a toxic mindset of never feeling good enough. It’s also easier to be a trend copycat than to put in the work to create genuine art. Whenever I find I’m slipping into such a state of mind, I consciously remind myself that while there are several talented photographers out there, none of them are better at being me than me, and that is the gift I bring to this world. It sounds so cliché, but it’s true. Many of the disappointments I’ve had in myself and in my business were due to the fact that I wasn’t doing x, y, or z as well as so-and-so was doing them. This is actually one of the main reasons why I’ve stopped spending much time at all on social media; it hurts much more than it helps. When I am clear about my own goals I can create my own path to get there and focus on that alone. In a way, I intentionally give myself tunnel vision so that I don’t fall prey to comparison. I can then also judge my success objectively and feel relief knowing I stayed true to myself and my brand. When I am achieving my dreams instead of someone else’s, the reward is much greater. Being polarizing (as opposed to palatable) has helped me find “my people” who are there for the experience of working with me, and who allow me to show up as my true self day in and day out.
Work life balance: how has your balance changed over time? How do you think about the balance?
Work/Life balance is like a unicorn; something magical that everyone talks about, but which is so difficult to find that no one really believes you when you do. I’ve had seasons of time where I felt a strong balance, but they have been fleeting and more often than not I’ve struggled with setting and maintaining those boundaries. Something I’ve picked up from my mentors is the need for abundant clarity before taking action, in work and in life. Without clarity, we live in a state of ambiguity, which really keeps us from achieving our dreams. You can’t make a map or enjoy the journey if you haven’t first set a definitive destination, and many of us are so eager to jump in and begin the work that we forget to clarify our intentions first. This mentality also robs us of celebrating the little victories on our way to our bigger goals, since we rarely realize these things are even victories at all! Everyone has a different philosophy, but for me, I work to provide for my family and live a fulfilling life. I am passionate about my business, but I remind myself that at the end of the day it is still a job and I don’t live to work. Now I celebrate when I successfully go an entire weekend without replying to a work email, or when I complete the three most important tasks I set for myself each day. I know there is a pesky workaholic living somewhere inside me that always wants to take control and put it in overdrive to feel the high of overachieving, but along the way I’ve found that version of myself was taking away the little joys in life, like regularly eating dinner with my husband and enjoying my old hobbies. I used to work until the task was done, but now I work until 6pm and then I turn off the computer for the night. I first had to believe that I was deserving of rest and relaxation, and second, if a potential client could not wait until the next day for a response, perhaps they weren’t the right client for me. I’ve realized that self-care is of the utmost importance, and that it isn’t pedicures and spa days, but creating a life you don’t need to regularly escape from. If you aren’t taking care of your physical health, mental health, or the close relationships in your life, the work you produce will reflect that. My best works undoubtedly flows from a nurtured and balanced state of mind. This is easier said than done, but I highly encourage anyone struggling with work/life balance to get clear about their goals, both small and large, set realistic expectations for the hours in a given day, and not to get so wrapped up in producing that you forget to fill your own cup and live the beautiful life you deserve.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If a friend were to visit me in Long Beach, I’d show them how our city is a hidden gem sandwiched between the bustling energy of LA and the glitz and glamour of Orange County. I’d take them cruising along the shoreline bike path, from Rosie’s Dog Beach all the way to downtown, and take in a sunset as it slips behind Rancho Palos Verdes and the cranes of the port. I’d take them to one of my favorite breweries, or one of LB’s several trendy dispensaries, depending on their fancy! I would show them some of our notorious landmarks, like the haunted Queen Mary, and the historic Villa Riviera. We could take the water taxi from one side of town to the other, or spend an afternoon riding hydrobikes around the marina. On a balmy day we could share a picnic lunch at El Dorado Park or hike around the nature center across the street. For the hipsters, I’d traverse 4th street and visit all of the vintage clothing stores and retro emporiums of Rose Park. For an edgier crowd, I’d hang out around Belmont Heights grabbing coffee at Steelhead or The Library, and maybe get matching piercings at Somatic. We might take a yoga class outside on the Bluff, or visit the Laugh Factory for an evening comedy show. I don’t even know where to begin when it comes to food, but my personal favorite restaurant is Open Sesame, a tiny little spot on 2nd Street that specializes in the most amazing array of Mediterranean food. We’d have to try that at least once! We could eat at the Starling Diner, At Last Café, or Schooner and Later, all of which have appeared on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. For the TV and movie buffs I’d point out all the places near the Pike where they’ve filmed other TV shows like CSI, Dexter, and Jane the Virgin, and beloved movies like Anchorman, La La Land, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Around the holidays you can’t miss the elaborate light displays or boat parade through the Naples canals, where the Christmas spirit becomes truly palpable. Long Beach is very walkable and also very diverse, which means the possibilities are endless and you can’t go wrong. Whatever you’re into, I’m sure we could find a way to spend the day doing something fun.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to dedicate this to my husband, James, who has been my #1 fan and encourager through many tough seasons of growth. I’d also like to thank my mentor, Robert J. Hill, for continually inspiring me to bring my most authentic self to the forefront of my business.
Photos by DOSKOFOTO