Tell us your bold boss story!
I was 5 months pregnant with my 3rd baby and my other 2 sons were 1 and 7 years old and I just moved an hour away from where I grew up and I didn't know anyone. I had always worked and now I was a stay at home mom. Once the baby was born, I started going a little stir crazy. My husband gave me my first DSLR camera and I loved taking photos of my kids and their new baby brother and I become a little obsessed with learning as much as I could about photography and Photoshop. I got pretty good so I started doing photos for friends. Once I had a decent sized portfolio, I bought a website. This was my first investment in my business. Now, this was in 2004 so very few people had websites and it was a heavy investment. I knew nothing about Google or SEO at the time. I just wrote a little About Me page and put up some photos. A month passed and then one day, I woke up and had 21 emails in my inbox. I had no idea what happened. NOW I know that what happened was that my site was indexed on Google and right away shot up to page one. I had no idea what to do. My husband said "start booking!" I didn't have a studio and my kids were little so I booked all my sessions on the weekends and either used my living room (which was not fun) or shot on location in client's homes. Maternity photography was fairly new at the time so I found myself being interviewed by the local paper who featured several of my images and some behind the scenes of me shooting a maternity session. Word of mouth started spreading and I just kept getting busier. Within 2 years I was able to open my first commercial studio space. Then the offers started coming in. Any opportunity that came my way I welcomed with open doors. I basically took the "jump in with both feet and then learn to swim" approach. I was asked to photograph a game for the Philadelphia Eagles. Sure thing!! I've had several professional athletes as clients as well. I was asked to photograph NYC Fashion Week. PINCH ME!!
Over the last 12 years, I've had 3 commercial studio spaces. A few years ago, I decided that I really wanted to focus on my first love which was newborn and maternity photography and I didn't need a big studio for that. So I built a home studio and I've been very happy and comfortable there for the last 3 years.
I think my success has come from the fact that I believe in printing images. I sell wall portraits, wall galleries, albums, etc. My products are heirloom quality and are meant to be passed down through generations. I really believe in the importance of printing images and like my clients to walk away with a finished product ready to be enjoyed daily in their homes. I've sold photographic art since the beginning and I've stayed true to that even in this big shift of only offering digital files. My main focus was to have some sort of "job" where I could also be home with my 3 kids. And I've done that. I still do that to this day so I can attend all their sports and school events. But it became a business that gave me a substantial full-time income that supported my family when my husband was out of work for a few years. Now that my kids are older, I can focus more on the business and take it to the next level. I'm always growing. I'm now branching out into beauty portraits and I'm teaching other photographers how to transition to in-person sales. I'm still always learning and always growing. Still stretching myself and trying new things.
We're all about bold boss moments, tell us about one of yours!
One of the things I'm most proud of is shooting NYC Fashion Week. This was so out of my comfort zone but I really wanted to have that experience so I jumped at the opportunity. I was a nervous wreck and I studied for weeks. Photographing moving models (who walk fairly fast by the way) is a whole different ball game than photographing sleeping babies. Add to that, that you're in what's called the "photographer's pit" which is a small space at the foot of the runway where there is ZERO elbow room. You are all squeezed in together and you can only have a monopod, camera and your battery back attached to your hip. After the first day I learned that it's a tough gig when you're short like me but I found good spot on day one and day 2 I brought a teeny step stool. I nailed the photos and it was AMAZING to see these exclusive fashion shows and all the celebrities in attendance. I even bumped into Kanye West...quite literally. I'm very proud that as nervous as I was and as far out of my wheelhouse as this type of photography was for me, I stepped up to the challenge and I got to photograph something that I will never forget.
What advice or words of encouragement do you have for the Bold Boss Tribe?
You have to DO to BECOME. I see many people who spend a lot of money on all sorts of education whether it be skill development or business. But if you don't actually DO what you've learned, you can't BECOME what you envision. You have to put that education and your ideas into action. It's only when you've put in hard work and planted lots of seeds that you'll start to see opportunity come your way.
Another great tip is to make IN-PERSON connections. In this digital age we're very quick to send off emails but nothing beats face to face interaction. Get out in your community, shake some hands, make some connections, and let them know who you are and what you do. You'd be surprised at what great partnerships come your way. Lastly, test your resistance. If there's something you're resistant to doing, that's probably the thing you need to do MOST. I hate talking on the phone, but I force myself to call every single inquiry. I find that it gives them more personal attention and people are more likely to hire you if they feel like they've made a personal connection with you.