Tell us a bit about your background, both work and education. How did you come to find your true passion?
After getting my Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts in 2005, I had NO clue what I wanted to do when I grew up! I worked at a bank for a few years, kind of in a holding pattern, when my wedding photographer and good friend told me I was out of my mind and far too artistic to be working at the bank! She urged me to go out, buy a camera, and come with her to a wedding that weekend. That was in 2007!
I started my business in 2008, and photographed anybody who would get in front of my camera!! Over the past 7 years, I’ve whittled my specialties from EVERYTHING under the sun, to everything BUT newborns, to weddings and seniors only, and eventually, to where my heart lies with only seniors and teens! I attended the Blink! Conference this past November, and it was a total gamechanger. It taught me that it was okay to accept advice and help from others, and let them help build me to be a better photographer and a better person overall. I met some lifelong friends and mentors at that photography conference, and I feel so blessed to have had that experience.
I just love the life and heart that my seniors and teens bring to the table. I shoot primarily girls, so they’re into fashion and makeup, and getting all glammed up for their shoot. I try to give them a once-in-a-lifetime statement senior portrait experience that builds their confidence and makes them feel like a rockstar! There’s nothing that feels better than making a teen feel better than she’s ever felt before and giving her photographic keepsakes to treasure for a lifetime.
After reading about what it means to us to #StyleYourLife, how do you style your life? How do you customize it and make your life for you?
I’ve done some serious styling and restyling of my life since I started my photography business! After a couple of years, I realized that my business was owning ME…I wasn’t owning it. I took control of my schedule, and limited my working days. Currently, I only shoot four days out of the month…the first two Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each, with one or two extras throughout the month. I have Premier Preview Parties for my girls and their families where they view their photos and choose their products at the end of the month. So really, I’m working with clients about 10 days out of the month! This has allowed me SO much more time with my husband and my wonderful 4 year old daughter, and I am grateful for every extra second. I have finally (almost) figured out this life/work balance thing!!
On a different note, I have recently had a complete overhaul of my branding for my business. It’s completely ME…as a person…not just a business now, and that feels so SO good. No more separation. It feels good to have a revamp that’s a total reflection of your own personality! I think this is so important for a businessperson, because you don’t have to be someone else for your business.
Can you tell us a bit about what’s in store for your future?
Funny you mention “store”…today I signed a lease on my very first retail space!! So a location is DEFINITELY in my very near future! I have never had a space besides inside my home, and I’m so ready to have a place to dedicate to my senior photography experience for my clients. I want them to be completely comfortable there, and I want it to reflect me and my business 100%. I feel like when someone comes to your house for a Premier Preview Party, and there’s a random Barbie leg (try as I might!) sticking out of the couch or a fruit snacks wrapper poking out from behind the coffee table, it kind of takes away from the glamorous experience I’m trying to offer! It’s very hard to go into professional mode when you’re at home, so I’m looking forward to the change.
I hope to continue to grow my senior business, and bring in more and more seniors from our area as well as from a distance!! I’ve already got a few girls this spring coming from hours away, so I’m hopeful that I can bring in even more glam girls from all around!
Do you have any tips/tricks to share with aspiring women in business and fellow female leaders?
YES! I think it’s SO SO important to keep your family’s needs above your business’ needs. There ARE ways…no matter where you live or what your market is like…to turn your business into something amazing and profitable. YOU have to take the reins and have the bravery to make that change and just GO for it!! I am very prayerful about life and business decisions, and trust God 100% to lead me in the right direction. I look for signs from Him, and when I see them, I trust them and run with them. Mentors and friends in your business are so important as well. Her success is not my failure…make it your mantra!! Help others even if you are scared of being burned. Just help anyway.
What does it mean to be happy, to you? Can you share 5 tips to happiness?
1.) Sometimes it’s okay to relinquish control.
2.) Trust God and trust your instincts.
3.) Make (lots) of time for your loved ones. The work will still be there after you push your daughter on the swingset for a while.
4.) Get some sleep, for crying out loud.
5.) Coffee. All the coffee.
6.) How would you advise other women to take control of their careers and customize their lives in all aspects?
You just have to be brave about it. Not gonna lie…when I changed my entire structure (only a few months ago!!!) and pricing, I was SO NERVOUS. I live in a town of 11,000 people, the largest neighboring town is 110,000, and I’m 2 hours from a large metro area; I increased my pricing by almost 5 times and starting offering products (which I’ve NEVER done…was always “shoot and burn” where you take the pictures and just give a disc that collects dust) was THIS CLOSE to turning back and changing back to the old way. You know what they say about the old way, right? If you do what you’ve always done you get what you’ve always gotten. What I’ve always gotten was not okay. I didn’t feel rewarded for all the heart and time I put into my business. I prayed for a sign and for direction on what I should do, and the very next day I got two new bookings. The next day I got another, and by the end of the week I had four. Be brave and bold, and just GO FOR IT. In photography, there are workshops and conferences, and different learning experiences that can help you develop your craft and your business. Find the equivalent for what you do, and do it. Make new friends in your business, and support each other.