I count myself pretty fortunate. I have a career that I love, a business that lights me up creatively, and the freedom, lifestyle and funds to spend as much time as I want with my young family.
But it wasn’t always so easy.
In the beginning it was a lot of hard work and long hours for not much return. It was especially hard since I’d left a well paying marketing role in real estate.
Right around the time I got engaged, I made the bold decision to quit my job and figure out what direction my life was going to take.
And, as a happy coincidence, I also now had time to plan a wedding!
But, in between the dress fittings, choosing a venue, and taste testing 14 different flavors of cake (it was a hard decision, you guys!) I also managed to carve out time to take a good long look at the career options available to me.
Law school, architecture, teaching – I did all the research, but nothing really seemed to fit. I finally decided to explore further the world of professional photography.
Photography had always been a huge hobby of mine, ever since high school when I’d immediately enrolled in photography classes as a freshman.
But I never imagined in a million years I’d be able to do it for a living.
I had told myself it wouldn’t be a viable career option – but I think deep down, I didn’t truly believe I was good enough to make it in such a competitive industry.
But despite all my fears I decided to at least start looking into the possibility.
I’m a do-your-research-first kind of gal, so I threw myself headlong into the world of professional photography and the intricacies of small business.
I looked at what you need in terms of resources and skills (and what it takes mentally and emotionally) to start and succeed in your own business.
I sought out the best training and development opportunities.
And I took a LOT of photos!
But the best and most valuable thing I ever did was talk to actual photographers about their businesses and what it’s like on a day-to-day basis to have an actual career in photography.
After some honest and open conversations with working photographers and having my work critiqued, I looked at my educational options.
I knew I wanted to be my own boss and have my own business, and now it was crunch time – I had to either go for it or go back to the 9-5.
Two weeks after I got back from my honeymoon, I started at the Art Institute in Houston, Texas.
After a year, I was interning with a photographer and getting ready to sign a lease on a new space.
Then in February 2010, I officially opened my own studio, and I haven’t looked back since.
One of the main reasons I chose to start my own photography business was the freedom and flexibility I knew it would provide when I started a family.
Of course, no one tells you just how much work it is to run your own business, especially if you actually want to make money.
I no longer had to ask to take time off or go to lunch, but I did have to put in some serious hours to get my business off the ground.
But, the trade off is totally worth it. I get to be in charge, set my schedule, make the decisions, and flex my creative muscles all day long.
On the down side, there’s a lot of work to do, which is exhausting if it’s just you in your business. That’s why I love (and highly recommend) outsourcing wherever I can.
I didn’t go to photography school to become an accountant, so while I always know exactly what’s going on in my business financially, I leave the time-consuming bookwork to the experts.
Being a photographer was the right choice for me because it allows me to have the lifestyle I want for myself, and my family.
Life is all about choices, and sometimes you have to take (measured and balanced) risks in order to create the life you truly want.
Here’s to making dreams come true!