One of the fun things about SCU and previously Skip's Summer School is the strength of the community. As sappy as it sounds, everybody becomes part of the family. On the Skip's Summer School Facebook page everybody watches each others backs. They simply help each other. It's reminiscent of the way the bigger forums first started, but without the trolls. Or, as Levi Sim, one of the founders of the page along with Brent Watkins, "No meanies allowed!" (There's the difference between me and Levi - I'd just drop a few four letter words - but you have to love somebody who still calls them "meanies".)
Having your own studio is a dream of so many photographers. Well, Cindy made the jump two years ago and in this post she's done a terrific job of taking us on her journey. Reading her post reminded me of a quote of Eleanor Rosevelt's:
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Well, with the help of all this quaint charm, I've made it to the two year mark of an open thriving business with NO debt. I was able to go from a full-time teaching job as the primary school music teacher to full-time professional photographer in less than five years. I knew the dream was to have my own little shop, but I had to make sure it was possible to live from my earnings as a photographer, before I made the leap.
The only way to overcome fear is to have sufficient planning in place. Here are some guidelines that helped me in my first couple of years, as I transitioned into a full-time career of photography.
- Find online communities to learn.
- Seek out a mentor whose skills you admire.
- Read everything you can get your hands on.
- Enter images for honest objective critique from your peers.
- Invest what you can afford in the very best camera and equipment. If you want to be a professional, you NEED professional gear.
- Learn your equipment! Shoot everyday in manual mode, until all aspects of the camera and equipment are something your fingers and brain do on their own.
I had paid for all my equipment as I went along, and had my eye on my adorable main street studio. The economy in my little town had taken a turn for the worse and it had been empty for a little while, so I called the owner to check on the monthly price. My sweet owner gave me her price-per-month and it was more than I was willing to risk paying out every month. I told her "When and if you think you could come down to my number, please call me." One day, she took me up on the offer and I knew my stars had aligned. I was going to be living the dream soon. My savings paid for all renovations for my space, and I was able to open Cindy Harter Photography Studio with no debt and move forward with my dream.
I photograph people every day. Relationships happen from birth until death, and I don't want to miss any of it! I have worked very hard to improve my skills, so that I can stay in business and bless others. You know you are doing the right job when you can hardly sleep, because you're excited and thinking about the next day's work.
Every day I walk down Main st. with my little green key to my studio in my hand, about to open my very own shop for the morning, and I can hardly believe it! Sometimes it still feels like I am playing store, but it's real! I've put a ton of planning and pleasure into living my dream, and now that it's a reality, I can't imagine doing anything else!