Photography, travel and connecting with people are most valuable to me so I combined all three into my work. As a photographer, I look for interesting places and angles that will relate to the viewer, while at the same time, encouraging them to see something from a new perspective. Another aspect of my company involves staging a scene to convey a particular message through the photograph.
When did you start your first company and what made you make the leap into business ownership? Being that my business is a passion that turned into a profession, I began a photography blog and website in 2014, but transitioned into an official business on May 20, 2016. Both personal and professional reasons led me to make the leap. I decided to leave my job and NYC to give my long distance relationship a fair shot. I moved to Germany for six months to be with my, now, husband. And, it was during that time when the fire ignited inside of me to make something more of my photography. The “now or never moment” was knocking at my door, so I knew I had to open it.
How did you get your first customer? Volunteering. I volunteered to shoot a charity event and after submitting the photos, I kindly asked if they would credit my company on the Facebook album. I was very hesitant to ask because I didn’t want to seem disingenuous, but I was very fortunate to have ignored those thoughts. A few months later, I was contacted by the marketing director of a leading US paper and packaging plant. He asked if he could buy a print that he had discovered on the charity’s page and requested to meet with me to discuss photos he needed for his marketing campaigns.
Who is the right person to book your services? You are a great fit for my service if you find that my photography triggers your emotions, such as, evoking a particular memory or discovering a personal attachment to the scene.
What does owning your business allow you to do? It allows me to bring out a side of me that had been dormant for so long. Whether it’s getting the perfect shot, learning a new technique or connecting with an Instagram follower, each of these moments gives me a deeper sense of joy and fulfillment that I had never experienced until journeying on my own.
What has been your biggest achievement so far? Pushing my boundaries. If you had asked me five years ago what I would be doing today, I would have never believed for a second that I would be starting my own business. I had always admired my friends who went on their own, but I seriously thought they were crazy to put all of that pressure, risk and fear on themselves. Yet, here I am today joining the club and embracing the unknowns!
What has been your biggest challenge so far? My biggest challenge has been continuously second guessing myself. There have been moments that have stalled my business because I had become so caught up in doubting myself. While sometimes those nerves, fears and doubts drive us, if you let them consume you, they are bound to hold you back.
When you look at your business in 5 years, where do you hope it will be? In five years, I hope to be in a place where the business runs like a well-oiled machine so that I am able to concentrate on taking my creativity to a new level. Right now, I have a notebook full of ideas that I just don’t have time to put into action.
How do you define success? I define success by one’s ability to recognize their strengths, overcome their weaknesses and not give up when times are tough (even when you desperately want to). It’s when you reach that moment of your career when you are able to look back at the start and be proud of yourself on how far you’ve come.
Finally, what advice do you have for other entrepreneurs? Delegate whenever possible! As with any start-up, the questions in my head starting overflowing (especially financial ones): How often do I need to file taxes? Do I need special permits for market sales? Online sales? What is a sales tax nexus? Etc. Instead of seeking immediate help from business advisors and tax accountants, I thought I would attempt to learn everything I possibly could on those topics to save the added expense. Needless to say, I quickly became overwhelmed and realized that I was becoming an accountant-in-training rather than a professional photographer. From that moment, I knew I needed to take the finances off of my shoulders and leave it to the professionals. In the instant my newly hired advisor said, “Let me handle the taxes, and let yourself focus on your craft,” I felt a huge sigh of relief!