Why Turning My Hobby into My Career Was Necessary | with Jamie Carle
This isn’t a ‘rags to riches’ story- it’s a ‘from sad to fulfilled’ one. I’m still working on the riches part, but I’ve managed to go from a single mom with roommates working full time in a dead end job to a full time photographer who owns my own car, lives alone with my son, does virtual assisting from home, sets my own schedule and is best of all self-employed. I’m here to tell you that if this is what you want, you can do it.
Years ago, I met my son’s father. We had a great falling in love story, built a wonderful life, and had a baby boy. There was so much going on that people didn’t realize. He was a raging alcoholic, and ultimately decided to leave my son and I. I stepped up. Hard. I was a paint associate at Home Depot, my job was very physical and my patience with people was thin. I was miserable. But I had to make rent, and we got by just barely. That was on top of having roommates coming and going in my son’s former nursery. He now slept in my room, and if it wasn’t customers bitching at me all day, it was staying up with my son all night. The monotony had pushed me into a little box of acceptance. I was afraid to try and fail. If I failed, I would lose what little I still had.
I applied for a local newborn photographer job, not ever thinking it would go through. Sure enough, I got the job and put in my two weeks notice. What happened then was the best and worst thing that could have happened.
My job took forever to start- mix-ups with labs and hospital registration, hospital and job orientations, and training. Altogether it was about 3 months that I didn’t have a job. I had recently lost another roommate and put my son’s room back together. I was determined to give that to him, and keep it.
I picked up my camera. I had been using a DSLR since I was 13, and was just a hobbyist. I knew my camera pretty well, and I could take the best flower pictures you’ve ever seen. I had taken photos of my son, but other people?
In an attempt to try and get some kind of income, I held a day for free photos, built a very small portfolio, and started a Facebook page. I spent all day marketing my mini sessions and sales, and it started working. I raised my prices, and was shocked that I started getting even more business. Photography kept me afloat those three months. The phrase “sink or swim” never seemed more true.
I didn’t want to let it go. I had the job, but it wasn’t enough hours to even make my rent. I kept going, kept finding more education, and kept working on my style. I became involved in a community that helped me grow and taught me to run a business. I took marketing and business classes online, and grew my social media presence. What started off as just a necessity turned into my dreams coming true. I felt happy. I was so used to being miserable, being told what to do that day, faking a smile, and hurting. A few times I sat in my car and cried after an event, a wedding, or a session because I was so proud of myself.
You can be whatever you want to be. People say that to us, and it always seems unattainable. Go from a hobbyist to a business shark, and remind yourself every day that you don’t want to go back to where you started. I found VA jobs were a way to supplement my income when I was slow and still give me that freedom. I now had a portfolio and resume to help get those jobs, and it all started to fall into place.
Being full-time doesn’t automatically mean success. But finding those areas of your life where you’re unhappy, or have just become so routine you’re afraid to change them and then doing just that- that is success. Making money from doing what you love is happiness. How much money and how much happiness is subjective, but I truly believe anyone can follow their dreams and live a life of zero regrets.
I'm a girl boss doing my camera thing in the Pacific Northwest. I enjoy mimosas, small plants, warm socks, and smashing the patriarchy. I'm a wedding + couples photographer who believes that all body types, all skin tones, and all loves deserve to be visible in the mainstream wedding community. I love speaking with other girl bosses and fellow mamas who feel as passionately about what they bring as I do. "You are quite the beauty. If no one has ever told you that before, know that right now. You are quite the beauty."