So … You Want to Make a Career Change and Become a Photographer? |

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So … You Want to Make a Career Change and Become a Photographer?

Tired of working for someone else?

What’s your dream job? Your actual dream job? Not the job that you think you should say is your dream job, but how you would actually love to spend your time?

How do you already spend your unpaid time? If you’re like me, you spend it behind a camera. You love capturing the world from your unique point of view and you enjoy it so much that it doesn’t feel like work.

So why not make a career change and become a photographer? If that’s how you love to spend your time, why not make your living doing what you love? Trust me, there’s a market out there for it and you can most definitely make a living out of it. 

I did, and so can you!

In case you need a note to remind yourself: “We make things happen when we make the choice to shift from denying of the unknown to starting.” – Lara Casey

Still feeling nervous? That’s okay! Let’s chat about it and we’ll see how you feel by the end of this article.

image of white notepad that says note to self on blue background

My Story

Let’s start with my story. Perhaps you will feel inspired and empowered knowing that if someone like me can do it, someone like you can do it too!

I’m going to throw a few big words at you here but my point isn’t to impress you with my career. Rather, I want to show you what I was willing to give up to follow my dream. 

I worked at a top 100 company as a derivative accountant. I specialized in audit, Sarbanes Oxley and Dodd-Frank compliance and gamification. I also had the somewhat intriguing task of teaching others in the company what they needed to know about these topics in a fun way. 

I did that for 10 years and I was ready for something else.

I transitioned slowly into photography. I started out doing family mini sessions and became a Google photographer. Then I moved into brand photography and started taking on small businesses as clients. As I gained clients, I went part-time at my corporate job until after 2 years of growing my photography business, I left completely. 

There you have it! If I can do it, anyone can!

This was me back when I started taking pictures at my Dad’s pharmacy to practice and build my portfolio, all while working in my corporate career and raising two little girls.

The Great Resignation

If you’re thinking about quitting your job, you don’t have to feel alone. In fact, due in part to the pandemic and the shift in people’s thinking about how they work, people are quitting their day jobs in droves and many are striking out on their own. 

The phenomenon is so widespread in 2021 that some are dubbing it the “Great Resignation.” In November 2021 alone, 4.5 million people quit their jobs, reaching a 3% quit rate across the nation. 

Things slowed down a bit in December, but many experts predict that even more people will quit their jobs in January. Some economists note that this is a sign of economic strength — people are quitting their jobs because they are confident in better options. 

What about you?

Could you be confident in your better option? Could you strike out on your own and build a business helping other small business owners build libraries of gorgeous images? If I can do it, so can you!

Steps for Success

Now that I’ve got you all pumped, let’s take a step back. Before you march right in and tell your boss that you’re quitting, let’s talk about how to make a successful transition. 

1. Save Money

Let’s be realistic about this, no matter how great your photography skills are, you won’t suddenly have a flood of clients immediately upon quitting your job. If you prepare well, you can certainly be well on your way, but don’t expect a full book immediately.

With that in mind. I recommend saving up at least 3 months of living expenses before taking the plunge. This takes off the stress and gives you a few weeks to devote to building your business without worrying about how to put food on the table. 

2. Build a Portfolio

There are a lot of types of photography out there. What have you primarily focused on up to this point as you’ve been taking hobby images? You may already have a great portfolio if you’ve been creating the kinds of images that brands will love. 

However, even if you have no commercial photography-type images, don’t worry. You get to have fun building your portfolio!

Start learning about brand photography. Follow successful small businesses on Instagram and get a feel for the types of images they use. Think about what appeals to you as a consumer and understand the types of photographs that help build a brand’s image.

Then, start applying that to your own photography. As you practice, you’re building a strong portfolio that will show potential clients how you can help them be successful in their businesses.

3. Start Taking Clients

You don’t have to wait until you quit your day job to start taking clients. Small business owners tend to be a flexible crowd so you can work with them after hours or on weekends. Sometimes, you’ll be creating the images on your own time anyway so you can do the work whenever it works for you. 

This will help you to start getting your name out there. In most communities, small business owners are a tight-knit group. Once you start working with a few clients who love your work enough to rave about you, you’ll find that more clients start coming. 

Of course, you don’t have to just leave it up to them. Do some legwork yourself. Get out and introduce yourself to other small business owners in the community. Reach out in person and on social media to showcase what you can do. 

4. Take the Leap

Once you’re ready and can afford it, it’s time to take the leap. Quit your job and start working for yourself.

How do you know when you’re ready? That’s a hard question to answer as it varies from person to person. However, I will say that you probably will never “feel” 100% ready. We creatives often have a hard time feeling confident enough in our craft that we feel good about taking a drastic leap like this. 

How do you know when you can afford it? Well, this one is a numbers game. Again, make sure you have at least three months of living expenses in savings just in case. You should also have a few clients and potentials warming up for down the road. 

For some people, it will obviously be the “right” moment. For example, you might get enough clients that you don’t have time to take on more but they’re coming anyway. Then it’s time to quit your job! That will give you the time you need to better serve your clients. 

Tools for Success as a Brand Photographer

But what about the business side of things? Understanding the ins and outs of commercial photography is only a part of what you’ll do as a brand photographer. You also have to learn how to run a business — your business.

I’ve known lots of people who are fantastic photographers but the business part holds them back. They don’t feel confident about things like taxes, tracking expenses, gaining clients, etc. Many of them feel like they don’t even know for sure everything that they should be doing to successfully run a business.

That’s where I can help!

I’ve created a course for brand photographers that details everything you need to know. You’ll get the tools and knowledge you need to build a full book and run your business successfully.

Turn your passion into a profession — without pulling your hair out along the way trying to figure everything out. Learn how to handle the business side of things and set up automations that will streamline your workflow and free up your time for the things you love. Click here to learn more about the Brand Photographers Blueprint.

Support and Help for Brand Photographers

What if you’re already an established photographer looking to transition into brand photography? Or maybe you’re an amateur with strong skills looking for support and help with gathering business clients?

Consider becoming a licensed Focus Creative Photographer or get my business blueprint course

You’ll get exclusive rights to your area, along with branding, resources, training, a website, and so much more! It’s all designed to help you be successful as a brand photographer. 

Live your dream and pursue your passion, all while working the hours you want and spending the bulk of your time doing things you want to do!

What’s Holding You Back?

It’s scary to take the plunge. Like it or not, your day job is a safety net. It allows you to put food on the table and provide for your family. 

Most of us have been trained to believe that work is something we won’t like. Our days should be full of tasks we don’t want to do. I made a career change and left that thinking behind me for good. What’s holding you back from doing the same?

You can become a photographer and make a living wage. You can spend your time doing the things you love. 

Head over to watch my FREE training that will show you how to become a 6-figure photographer while working the hours you want to work and to find out how Focus Creative can best support you on your journey to becoming a successful brand photographer!

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