Starting Up A Photography Business Is Like Riding A Roller Coaster

I’m definitely thinking 2009 will be the year of the entrepreneur.

Back in roller coaster 2December, I wrote a post The Return Of The Entrepreneurs. And now just a couple of months later, I’m amazed at the number of emails from people truly wanting to take that next step, and open up their own studio.

Because I’ve been answering so many questions about starting up a photography business lately, I decided some of my thoughts would make a perfect post.

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My start into my own business
Back in the early 90’s, Andrew and I had a dream of owning our own studio, and earning our living through the studio. We both had full time jobs, and worked at the business on nights and on weekends. The jobs we did for the money. The photography we did because we loved it.

Obviously we started where most photographers do. We loved it. We’re passionate about it. And had dreams of it becoming our careers. We both come from 9 to 5 parents, so we were never exposed to the entrepreneurial lifestyle. We had no idea what we were doing, and took each step completely blind.

Our first big step was having Andrew go full time. After being downsized three times from three separate positions in three separate industries, we knew it was time. So we opened up a small studio, and took on every type of client that called.

But I still held on to my full time job. Corporate, 9 to 5, with a ton of travel.

Then along came my daughter. We chose not to do day care, and she became a studio baby. Because we were focused on weddings at that point, most of the people work came on the weekends, with occasional client meetings during the week. (And we even wondered if you could use your child as a tax writeoff because bride-to-be’s loved it that a father was caring for his daughter during the week while I was at work. We booked many clients because of it – and just kidding about the tax writeoff!)

But I still traveled. I remember the phone calls filled with excitement because he witnessed the first time she rolled over, or her first word. I got to see some of it on video, but I missed many other moments. And it was amazing to me how fast a baby grows when you’re away on business for a two week period. I knew I couldn’t keep that up forever.

What if you took the chance?
Do you remember the first time you went to an amusement park, and were talked into riding the roller coaster? Your friends all said it was the cool thing to do. So you stood there in line, talking big, with the butterflies swirling in your stomach. You inched along, minute after minute getting closer to the top. And of course your friends had to make you sit in the front car – it’s the best, right? So you got in, felt that sick feeling in your stomach, and just made a plea that you wouldn’t get sick from all those butterflies BEFORE you reached the end of the ride. roller coaster

After the 3 minute ride, you were screaming with excitement! Of course you had to do it again. What an amazing experience. And now of course you were “experienced” so you could get back in line, talking like you knew it all. And the butterflies disappeared.

image source tenioman

The butterflies were there when Andrew chose photography over going back to the 9 to 5 world. But actually quitting a high paying job with benefits is a completely different story. The butterflies I had when I marched into my boss’s office to quit were a lot wilder than they were sitting in the front car of that roller coaster. The roller coaster ride was over in 3 minutes. This impacted my life forever from that point on. Plus the life of my daughter as well.

I wouldn’t change a thing!
Fast-forward ten years into the future. Today I can’t imagine life any other way. I have breakfast every day with my daughter, and drive her to school. I pick her up and help her with her homework. If she has a special function at school during the day, I’m there. I’m the coach of one of her school teams.

And not only am I there for her, I’m also there for her friends. I have other working parents ask me to do things all the time. Would I mind carpooling to an event (I’m the only one that doesn’t have to ask for time off to pick up at 3:30.) snowman08small

Yep, I’m up at 6 checking email, answering questions, and working on my social networking sites. I work from 8:30 to 3:30 while my daughter’s in school. And I work in the evenings if I need to catch up on things.

But I set my own schedule because it’s important to me. I work when I need to because it impacts my business and my lifestyle. I make my own choices, because its what I choose to do.

What about you?
So if you’ve always considered running a studio, but just not sure about the details, I will tell you this is your year. Anything is possible – you just have to believe in it. You have to be willing to dedicate the time to learning all you can, and moving forward towards success. It can happen to you.

If you believe.

5 thoughts on “Starting Up A Photography Business Is Like Riding A Roller Coaster”

  1. Roller coaster about sums it up. I’ve been entrepenurial my entire life. I still have another business. Luckly, between investment real estate and photography one always makes enough money to support my family of six!

    Starting a studio is hard work. Keeping it going is more hard work. Watching people smile at the photos they leave with is the reward. Well, that and the fact that all my bills are paid. 🙂

  2. I’m so happy I visited this web! I am planning to put up a photo studio though I am not really that entrepreneurial. I love taking pictures and posing to the camera. I am hoping to learn more.Good luck to us who loves Photography!

  3. Go for it grace! You have to plan, prepare, purchase maybe (tho’ there are free progs that will get you going) and persevere! Get all the P’s ?
    I sold quite a few of my images and have started a mini freelance Castle Photo Graphics business (SLOW to get off the ground, but I have some happy customers already and I’m counting on referrals and a growing reputation.
    The website and blog is very slow cos I have so few on mailing list who have opted in but you have to start somewhere and build up.

    BEST WISHES to all and thanks for this helpful site + insights + experience shared.

  4. It takes a lot of courage, but it’well worth the ride.

    Good luck to everyone who made the decision.



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