What is your backstory?


I was raised in Tucson, Arizona, the youngest of a family of 6 kids. My father was a hobbyist photographer and I remember getting into his equipment and playing monkeying around with it when I was young. He even did some darkroom work and had an enlarger and all the equipment necessary to develop prints at home. I think my fascination with photography started then, perhaps as a way to better connect with my father, but it grew into a passion that has stayed with me throughout my life. I guess it was just in my genes!


Even though my creative outlet was photography from a young age, I didn’t decide to be a professional photographer until later in life. Instead, I received my Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Accounting at the University of Arizona, spent 2 years in Los Angeles and then landed in DC in my mid-20’s. My working life started as an Accountant and Auditor but I spend most of my corporate career as a consultant, leading team projects. For roughly the last 8 of those years, I’ve been growing my Newborn and Maternity photography studio as a side-hustle.


Here’s the thing about a side-hustle: if it’s something you really love, it starts to compete with the safe and well-paying day job, until pretty soon, you have to choose. Fortunately for me, that choice was made crystal clear. I found myself managing a very large and challenging team, and working 60+ hour weeks with no end in sight. I was stressed out, losing sleep, and missing out on spending time with my husband and my young daughter.


So, I did the unthinkable for most people, I just quit. For me, it wasn’t too crazy of a decision, I already had a thriving side business but the scary part was the uncertainty of whether my side business would thrive as a full-time biz. Right around that time, I “discovered” the idea of focusing on Personal Brand photography through one of my mentors, Jamie Swanson. It totally clicked with me that this is the future of the photography industry and that I needed, and really wanted, to pivot my business to helping entrepreneurs with imagery so that they could connect with their target clients and grow their personal brands.


What I realized was that because I spent years in the corporate and consulting worlds and running a portrait photography business, I have a very unique understanding of how powerful professional photography can be in telling stories and engaging people. Now, I know that I’m in the best place for me and my family. I am doing what I love, I’m able to truly be present for my family AND I get to help other business owners succeed too!


What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why.


1. I wish someone would have told me that you don’t have to be perfect, just be done! In the past, I have spent so much time trying to get things perfect that I have missed out on opportunities to move my business forward. I agonized over details on the design of my business card or spent way too much time researching how I should upgrade my equipment.


2. Focus only on what you love to photograph, don’t try to do it all. Early on, I spent a lot of time photographing families, newborns, babies, maternity, lifestyle portraits, whatever I could do to make money. What I realized was that I spread myself way too thin and my portraits were just average. So, I sat down one day and wrote out what I loved about each niche. I discovered that I loved photographing business owners and helping them with branded images. As a result of focusing my business, my work improved dramatically and I was able to devote time necessary to develop my style.


3. Don’t enroll in too many online courses – this one is really hard. I’m a recovering online course junkie. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on courses and have only made it all the way through a few of them. I know this is hard for people because the promise of those amazing results for your business is so enticing. The real truth is that it isn’t that NEXT new course that will help you up-level your business, it’s the work you do to complete the course that gets you there. I’ve found that two of the courses I completed, one on Personal Brand photography and one on Natural Lighting for portraits, have made me focus in on Personal Brand AND have made me more skilled at finding and using natural light during my sessions.


4. Get a business coach for accountability. Can’t stress this enough. From day 1, my business coach has helped me focus on the right priorities. I mean everything feels like a priority when you are your own boss. Getting out of your own way and streamlining your to-do list is much easier when you have a knowledgeable, un-biased guide helping you. This has been a major game changer for me because it has helped me think about my business in a much more strategic way.


5. Get out from behind your computer and join a local networking group. It is incredibly important to personally connect with people with whom you feel comfortable but those who can help you grow. When you find that right group of people, you will have support from others who truly understand what it is like to be an entrepreneur. I joined a local women’s networking group earlier this year and the energy that these business owners have is contagious. Every time I leave a meeting, I feel motivated, hopeful and full of creative thoughts. I am also able to help others in the group with their struggles so we can all rise up and conquer our respective business worlds!


Published by john paret