Making The Leap To Full Time
My last post in the Tips with DZP series focused on taking small action steps, stepping out of the "should I or shouldn't" trap and in the direction of your goals. For me that looked like working towards making the leap from news photographer to small business owner and wedding photographer. While I started my business in 2009, it wasn't until 2011 that I became a full time business owner. How did that happen? With much thought and defined action plans. While the journey to full time photographer might look different for everyone, this is what it looked like for me.
Around 2007/2008 someone walked into the newsroom and showed me some images. One her friends was getting married in California and they were looking at photographers. "Check these out," she shared, and I was ENTHRALLED with what she showed me. I was completely blown away with how these photographers were capturing weddings, in their own style, in their own unique way. Up until that point I had only pictured wedding photography as a stiff and cookie cutter. These photographers changed that for me.
I looked through their websites and blogs and was hooked. I wanted to run my own business. I wanted to capture HAPPY images of people in love. I wanted to do it my way, in my own unique style. From then on I would spend my days in the newsroom dreaming about a future as a wedding photographer. But I had no idea how to actually make that dream a reality. Like I've shared before, my job was SAFE. Jumping into running my own business was NOT. How does one make that decision? Here are four small steps that I took towards making that dream a reality.
1. I started small. I began second shooting as much as I could for other photographers. While I was a news photographer I worked weekends, which made shooting on the weddings diffcult. I couldn't jump head first into wedding photography, I HAD to take baby steps that aligned with my work schedule. This allowed me to get my feet wet so to speak with wedding photography and to flush out if I really did like shooting weddings. (hey it's not for everyone!) For me this slowly and steady pace was exactly what I needed. I could take my time, dig deep and make the right decision.
2. I kept my day job. I was lucky, my day job as a news photographer actually involved something I love, photography. So while I was continuing to flesh out this dream of owning my own business, I was still able to persue photography and tell stories with my camera. The best part of keeping my full time professoin though was the stability, security and income my job provided. It was a security blanket of sorts and it gave me a unique opportunity to build my business slowly, without racking up debt or making poor financial decisions.
3. I attended conferences. In 2010 I attended WPPI for the first time as a "test". I thought if by going to a Wedding & Portrait Photography conference, that I would know for SURE if this was really the path for me. I honestly thought that I would come home from that conference convinced that staying at my newspaper job was the answer. Instead, I was more on fire than ever and determined to become a wedding photographer. This conference was a game changer for me and gave me the confidence and fuel to chase after this dream of wedding photography.
4. I sought out support. Throughout this period, and to this day, I've had an amazing and unwavering system of support from family, friends, photographers or mentors. I've been incredibly fortunate to have a group of people who have poured into me and my business and helped to further this dream of mine. But these relationships didn't just fall into my lap, I've actively sought out relationships with other professionals, people who have deeply impacted me and my business. If there was one thing that has helped me to make the transition from news photographer to full time wedding photographer it would have to be the relationships I've created over the years. I'm incredibly thankful for the people who have generously poured love, support and knowledge into my life.
Are you transitioning from part time to full time business owner? What have been the things that have helped you along your journey? Have there been people who have poured into your life? For me, slow and steady was the course I needed to take. When it came time to make a decision the path was clear. While the future was unknown, I was ready to take the leap. It's been over four years since leaving my job as a news photographer and I haven't looked back. Having the opportunity to run my own business and photograph JOYFUL couples on their wedding day (and beyond!) has been a dream come true. If you have any questions about what it looks like to make the leap to full time, leave a comment below or shoot me an email, I'm happy to help! Happy Tuesday folks!
Image by Justin & Mary.