Last week I published a post about making the jump from part-time to full-time as a professional photographer. What started it all was a post in one of the forums from a photographer getting ready to make the change and expressing her fears. Jennifer Tallerico was one of the forum members who responded and shared just a couple of sentences about making the change years ago and loving life ever since.
She wrote: I looked at doing full time for awhile, but with a huge salary and comfy state job, who could leave with two kids at home? Well the state of Florida decided I needed a push and laid me off along with over 1200 others...It was the best thing that could have happened for my family, but every situation is different, so it is that decision that only you truly know.
That led me to contact Jennifer and see if she'd be willing to expand the story of heading out to become a full time photographer.
The thing is, so many of us have done it in our careers and all for different reasons. I've written a lot about making my own change from a great job, salary and benefits to starting my own business five years ago this month. I've never looked back and never been happier with my career choice.
One of the things that makes me happiest is being able to share stories with you about or from other photographers with the same fears and challenges. One of my most favorite posts was from Cindy Harter Sims last year about all the things she did to make the move from a music teacher and part time photographer to full time studio owner. Like Jennifer in this post, Cindy's made it a point to NEVER stop learning and growing her skill set.
For all of us as independent business owners, education is a never-ending process, whether focusing on technique, marketing or business. However, the reward is waking up every morning with a smile on your face and being excited about the day ahead.
It doesn't get much better! Skip Cohen
Three years ago this July, I had already achieved the "American Dream". I had a two story home in one of the best neighborhoods in town, two amazingly talented children, and a hard working husband who cared so much for his family. To top it off I worked in a cushy state job as a scientist in the environmental field. Pensions, matching 401K, vacation and paid gym membership! Why would anyone leave?
July 15th, my birthday of all days, I was told I was being laid off due to major budget cuts in the state of Florida. I worked through that emotional stage of shock, but then quickly recovered with the thoughts of my "back up plan." For years prior, I was working in the photography industry as a small business boudoir photographer. It was something I had always thought of doing full time, but who in their right mind would have left the "cushy" state job when they and two kids at home?
The lay off was the push I needed.
I became very motivated in marketing myself, knowing that there was no one at the end of the day handing me a guaranteed paycheck to pay my bills. The passion for photography was always there, the love of the art was ingrained into me from early on, and the drive to succeed was in my blood. But what about the business sense? The bookkeeper? The IT guy? The legal guru? These were all roles I was not familiar with, at least enough to run a successful business. So I went to the internet. I spent hours researching, watching youtube videos, reading forums and interacting with other photographers who either perfected the art of marketing, or were working towards it in their own company.
Fast forward to present day, and I am still learning. There isn't anybody, even the top in our industry, who is not actively learning every day. I am finally at the wonderful stage of feeling comfortable in my business, yet I will not become complacent and the gears never stop churning out new ideas.
I actively seek out new ways to make my business more efficient, more streamline as well as working to get the best for my clients. Was this the life I had imagined for myself when I was handed that Masters in engineering 11 years ago? Actually it was, but I detoured through a "cushy" state job to get where I belong.
All images copyright Jennifer Tallerico. All rights reserved.