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What is your backstory?
I was raised in Tucson, Arizona, the youngest of a family of 6 kids. My father was a hobbyist photographer and I remember getting into his equipment and playing monkeying around with it when I was young. He even did some darkroom work and had an enlarger and all the equipment necessary to develop prints at home. I think my fascination with photography started then, perhaps as a way to better connect with my father, but it grew into a passion that has stayed with me throughout my life. I guess it was just in my genes!
Even though my creative outlet was photography from a young age, I didn’t decide to be a professional photographer until later in life. Instead, I received my Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Accounting at the University of Arizona, spent 2 years in Los Angeles and then landed in DC in my mid-20’s. My working life started as an Accountant and Auditor but I spend most of my corporate career as a consultant, leading team projects. For roughly the last 8 of those years, I’ve been growing my Newborn and Maternity photography studio as a side-hustle.
Here’s the thing about a side-hustle: if it’s something you really love, it starts to compete with the safe and well-paying day job, until pretty soon, you have to choose. Fortunately for me, that choice was made crystal clear. I found myself managing a very large and challenging team, and working 60+ hour weeks with no end in sight. I was stressed out, losing sleep, and missing out on spending time with my husband and my young daughter.
So, I did the unthinkable for most people, I just quit. For me, it wasn’t too crazy of a decision, I already had a thriving side business but the scary part was the uncertainty of whether my side business would thrive as a full-time biz. Right around that time, I “discovered” the idea of focusing on Personal Brand photography through one of my mentors, Jamie Swanson. It totally clicked with me that this is the future of the photography industry and that I needed, and really wanted, to pivot my business to helping entrepreneurs with imagery so that they could connect with their target clients and grow their personal brands
What I realized was that because I spent years in the corporate and consulting worlds and running a portrait photography business, I have a very unique understanding of how powerful professional photography can be in telling stories and engaging people. Now, I know that I’m in the best place for me and my family. I am doing what I love, I’m able to truly be present for my family AND I get to help other business owners succeed too!
Can you tell me the story of your prior successes, challenges, and major responsibilities?’
When I started my business, I focused on the story of parents starting their families, producing portraits of mothers-to-be and little newborn babies. Despite the challenges of also working a full-time job and having my own family responsibilities, I was able to grow my business and become an expert in my area in the newborn photography space.
Since pivoting my business from newborn to personal branding, my main challenge was choosing to put my successful newborn business on the back burner and shift gears to create a new, personal brand business. I think that what really sealed the deal and gave me the courage to continue is because I see a real need for this type of photography and I can see the long-term advantage of pursuing this niche NOW so that I can help shape the industry!
Can you tell me about a time when you almost gave up, how you felt about that, and what you did instead of giving up?
Back in my corporate days, when I was on an extremely challenging project, I was at the client’s office late at night working on a tight deadline. We had a skeleton crew and I was taking on a task role as well as a leadership role. At this point in the project, a staff member decided to go home without a second thought about the rest of the team. This occurred after a long period of being understaffed, having too many tight deadlines and working with processes that were exceedingly cumbersome and manual. It was already midnight and I knew I would have to pick up the additional work which meant several more hours in the office.
I was already exhausted. I felt like walking out right then and there. Just throwing in the towel and never coming back. Instead, I took a walk outside for some fresh air and thought about my options. Obviously, I am not a quitter and my actions would affect a whole lot more people than just me. So, I grabbed more coffee, went back in to the office and hunkered down to finish the job.
This experience, in fact, was one of several that helped me make the decision to finally leave the company and pursue my business full time. I realized if I could summon the energy and motivation to complete that work under those circumstances, I could achieve some really amazing things working on my OWN projects and with my OWN clients.