Making it WORK: Professional photographers

Making it Work is an ongoing series about people who move with their spouse’s career and still create a way for themselves to stay involved in their own profession and interests. We hope this series helps and, more importantly, inspires you! If you have a story you’d like to share with us, we’d love to hear from you! Email us themovingmom@gmail.com.

Silvia Sharpe Photography

Located in Leavenworth, KS

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1. Where all have you moved/lived? Tell us a little about your family, spouse, pets, why you move, etc?

Moving has been a huge part of my life. Born and raised in Bulgaria, I moved to Regensburg, Germany to attend college at age 18. Shortly after I graduated college, my husband and I moved to the Unites States. Because of his military career, we spent 4 years at West Point, NY, then Colorado Springs, CO (briefly), Oahu, Hawaii (the 3.5 years there still feel like a dream), and we now live in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. My entire life has been about making it work and taking it a step further by making the most out of every location. We have two very energetic boys, Alex and Evan, who are now 9 and 6 years old. Moving so often has its disadvantages without a doubt, but it has also opened up a world of possibilities and opportunities that we would have not had otherwise. The hardest part of moving, on a personal level, is saying “good bye” to the friends you’ve made and watching the children go through the same experience. However, precisely because we have moved so many times, I have had the opportunity to connect with so many people at different locations and build friendships that we all treasure deeply. My children are growing up open minded, and outgoing. It is almost like they don’t have a choice. The ease with which they make friends is astonishing. 

2. How did you get started in photography? How did you decide to make it your profession? How long have you had your business?

I slowly started discovering my passion for photography when my son Alex was born. It didn’t happen overnight. My desire to freeze time and beauty pushed me to learn as much about photography as possible. Surprisingly, my Masters Degree in Public Administration did not prove very helpful in this area! I spent years practicing and soaking up every bit of information related to photography, but it wasn’t until 3 years ago when I felt I was ready to turn my passion into a business. It was quite scary. The best thing I did was to allow myself to define and pursue success on my own terms. This helped me visualize what “make it work” was all about, and just because we were about to move, I wasn’t going to stop without giving it my best.  It has been one crazy and exciting ride with tons of trials, errors, celebrations, tears and laughter. Owning my business, and not allowing the fear of moving to conquer me, has made it possible for me to be there for my boys while they are still young, and at the same time spend my days doing what I love. I meet new clients on an almost daily basis and the emotion that my images bring to their lives is beyond empowering and fulfilling.

3. How does moving impact your business?

Business ownership and everything it entails (such as marketing, figuring out who your target client is, positioning yourself in your current market, budgeting, pricing, taxes, etc.) present a challenge in itself. When you add the stress of moving and starting your business at a completely unknown location, you are now dealing with a whole new level of challenges. I have spent countless hours scouting out new locations, meeting with potential clients and looking for venues to help me establish and expand my network. At the same time, moving your business gives you the opportunity to meet new people, shoot at new exciting locations, and spark your creativity in ways that will help you evolve on a personal and a professional level. I guess, just like with all other aspects of life, one can concentrate on the countless challenges, or look at it as an adventure and an opportunity.

4. Any advice you would have for others who may want to start a business that they can move with them?

Building up your client base all over again after moving may prove quite challenging. My advice is simple. First, take it as slow as you need to. Stressing yourself out with unrealistic goals, in terms of how long it will take you to build up your business again, will only affect your ability to concentrate in a negative way. I learned the hard way that getting your name out there and building up your reputation does not happen overnight. Second, do your research about the area you are moving to and find out everything about your target client, so that you can market directly to them. This is something I had started working on even before we moved to our current location. Find out which marketing tools work best for your area. Participating at local fairs, creating long-lasting relationships with other local business owners, networking, local newspaper advertisements, Facebook advertisement, developing your own campaign using clients as representatives, creating incentives for loyal clients, developing products that will grab the locals’ interest such as offering sessions at unique locations, and word of mouth, are all tools that one can utilize. However, finding out which ones will bring you the best return on your investment of time and money is something that will take time. Last but not least, networking with other photographers can prove to be a valuable source of knowledge and inspiration. I am beyond thankful for several local photographers with whom I have developed strong relationships. We experiment together, we refer clients to each other when needed, and support each other. Many beautiful things can come out of it. For example, last year, a fellow photographer and I founded a photography workshop called “Beyond the Basics”, which is geared towards beginners and hobbyists, who would like to gain a better understanding of their cameras and the power they have at the tip of their fingers.

5. Any advice for hiring the right photographer for you and your family?

Do a lot of research! A photographer’s portfolio shows potential clients what to expect and I highly recommend you take the time to review it in detail. Different photographers have different shooting and editing styles. This doesn’t mean that the one is better than the other, but chances are, you, as the customer, will feel a stronger connection to one or the other. Look at the common theme amongst their body of work. Even if the pictures have been taken at many different locations, you will discover a theme, and this is precisely the photographer’s style. If you are in love with his/her style, you are a step closer to making the right choice. Be open with your photographer. Share your thoughts and expectations with them, ask them questions and learn as much about their workflow as possible, in order to determine if not only the photographer’s style but also work flow and business model are the right choice for you and your family. Our photography services are not just about the final result. They are just as much about you, the client, and providing you with an amazing experience from the first day you contact us to the moment you are viewing your final images.

Rocole Photography and Design

Facebook Page

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1. Where all have you moved/lived? Tell us a little about your family, spouse, pets, why you move, etc?

My husband, Dan, and I dated for 2 years before he hired on a large construction company in 2007. After 6 months, they sent him to sunny California. So, I packed up my brother and sister, whom I am guardian for, and followed him there. From there, we moved to Michigan, where we became engaged and married 1 week before they sent us to Saskatchewan, Canada for two and a half years. Our oldest son Will, 4, is both an American and Canadian citizen. While there, we finalized our purchase on a house in Paola, KS.  That’s where our naughty 2-year-old Sam was born. During that time, my husband started work at a project in California. He commuted for a year before we moved out to join him, so that this momma could get some help with baby #3 when he arrived 🙂  Henry, 1, was born while we lived in El Segundo, CA. (Our favorite place to live so far). The boys and I did move back to Kansas for six months (for the new school year) before my husband was able to join us here again. So for the moment we are all at home. My sister has since moved back to Wisconsin (where we’re from). But the rest of us are here in our big house out in the country. Our only pet is an affectionate barn cat named “Buzz”…. that is unless you count the deer, possums and coyotes that visit us regularly.

2. How did you get started in photography? How did you decide to make it your profession? How long have you had your business?

I have always loved photography. I remember waking at my father’s house, at 10 years old, at 5:30 a.m. to walk outside and photograph a sunrise. I was always bugging my sisters (all five of them) to do photo shoots. I never intended for it to be a profession. It was just a hobby…something to do for fun. I love being a housewife and mother, but I think it’s so important to have something creative or constructive to pour yourself into outside of all that. While living in Saskatchewan, I had a lot of time on my hands, and found myself endlessly watching YouTube videos on editing and photography. I had lovely friends that would allow me to practice on them and their children. I still learn more every time I do a shoot. I’m always learning. It’s really only taken off the last couple years.

3. How does moving impact your business?

I will be honest, on a move- I do not do a whole lot of shoots, and the few that I do are usually families I know through my husband’s company. I don’t do any advertising outside of Facebook, mainly because I don’t usually have all of my equipment with me. When we move, I bring what I think is essential but I’m sure other moving mommas can relate to not wanting to take everything but the kitchen sink. I have a great client base in Wisconsin for when I travel home, and usually squeeze in a handful of shoots while I’m there. The great thing about taking those breaks, though is that it is really fun to focus my photography on my little family. I love lifestyle photography and it’s fun to pull out my camera and try to get photos of my little ones in their element.

4. Any advice you would have for others who may want to start a business that they can move with them?

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. It’s nearly impossible to be successful overnight. It’s a process. Building a client base takes time. Use your downtime to research, and network with other businesses. I cannot tell you how much I have learned in other photography forums.

5. Any advice for hiring the right photographer for you and your family?

Do your research. It’s so easy now, to go online and see the work that they do. I can’t tell you how many favorite photographers I have. I have at least two right in this area that I adore! Everyone has such a special style that’s all their own. Look around to find that right fit. Sometimes it’s a little bit of a drive, sometimes it can be a little pricey, but to me those memories are so precious and are worth it.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *