Like most photographers or creatives, I really believe I've always been destined for a "creative" career. I'm 26 years old, and I've spent a lot of time lately reflecting on what has brought me here in life. As a little girl, I was drawn to anything creative. Art, writing, scrapbooking, decorating, etc... it all drew me in. I wasn't athletic, or drawn to things like science and math. My daddy is a teacher, and I can remember many nights where I'd go to his classroom and help him "decorate" his bulletin boards. I'd sit beside my mom while she scrapbooked and offer help. I was the one who did all the fancy Powerpoints in the group at school, or went a little too extra on visual projects. But I loved it!
I always loved photography, but never knew anything about it. I just liked the idea of taking photos of people and editing them. Mind you, back then I used terrible filters from Picnik and tried to blur the backgrounds myself because I didn't have a sweet clue how people got that look. But it was fun!
IMAGE BY JULIE PARKER PHOTOGRAPHY
I purchased my first DSLR when I was 19 years old. 7 years ago. I spent almost my entire summer earnings on it, because I am a type 8 and no one can really tell me what to do.
Honestly, I never really expected to become a professional photographer. When I first started out, it was a hobby. I knew I could make a bit of extra cash on the side, and figured "Hey, this would be a good job when I have kids!"
It wasn't until I graduated Bible College and spent a summer working in an office that I decided I was really going to pursue this.
I had gotten a job right out of college working at a publishing company here in New Brunswick. My employer was amazing, and so were my coworkers! But it was a 8-5 job, Monday through Friday. Sitting at a desk, typing all day, taking a few breaks here and there trying to stay awake. While the atmosphere was somewhat laid back, (like, my boss would literally tell us we could wear our PJ's to work some day) there were some pretty tight rules in place because we couldn't afford to make mistakes and be distracted. When I say I hated it, I mean, I hated it. Like, 10 AM would hit and I'd be ready to go home.
I had been accepted into the photography program at NBCC for the following fall, but was torn on whether or not I should go. I had so many people telling me what I should do. Some told me to go for it, but for the most part, people were really quiet when I brought it up.
Finally one day, something just switched inside me, and I informed my boss I wouldn't be coming back that fall. I still remember the feeling on my last day of work. The burden that was lifted off my shoulders.
The next year was probably one of the best years of my life. I was newly married, and both my husband Anson and I got to travel to NBCC together. It was seriously the best thing ever. PS. I highly recommend that you go to college together when you're first married, if it's in your plans, because lunch dates + car rides are so much fun!
I met some pretty amazing people that year, too. Haley, my very best friend, was in my class, and was really the only other girl who wasn't a beginner photographer and knew she wanted to make a living out of this too. We became best friends, I got to photograph her wedding the following year and we are both mamas and photographers!
I also met Brent MacArthur, who was one of my instructors, and mentored me for a year while I worked at his studio in Woodstock, NB following graduation. While I had lots of experience booking sessions before my internship with Brent, I got to learn a lot of stuff about running a business and working with people. Brent was incredible when it came to detail, people skills, and organization. I learned so much from him and I am so thankful for that opportunity!
I finished working for Brent when I had Asher in 2017. I wanted to spend as much time with him as a baby, but at the same time, I felt ready to go out on my own and really make my business grow. That year, I worked whenever I could, while learning how to become a mom. I took things slow. I didn't want to overwhelm myself or burn out. Over the past three years, I've focused on learning balance as a mom, a photographer, and a wife. It's been an incredible journey, and I plan on talking about that more in another post.
There were many times before I got pregnant that I would get really discouraged and think about quitting. This industry is not for the faint of heart. It's tough. It's competitive. It's forever changing and you have to be quick, flexible, and always willing to grow. And it's sooooo expensive. The equipment. The time. The energy. It takes a lot from a person. I'm so glad that I stuck with it though, because it's been so rewarding. Every time I would get discouraged and think, "Maybe I should go get a real job like everyone else" I would get so depressed, and I'd get so anxious. I once sat in the parking lot of a building I was about to apply for, and sat there for about a half hour trying to decide if I really wanted to give up photography and work for someone else. In my heart, I just knew I couldn't.
When you find something that you LOVE to do and you know you're good at it, don't trade it for anything.
The thing that really kept drawing me back to photography was the joy that always came with it. Every time I left a session, I would feel so energized, happy, and full of life. I think it had a lot to do with the people I was photographing, and the fact that I was creating art and capturing a little piece of God's beauty. It wasn't so much about, "OMG you're such a good photographer" but more so, "Wow Lisa. You really capture who we are and I feel so beautiful and happy after looking through these images!"
My why, or the reason behind why I do this, is because I really love helping others see how naturally beautiful they are and how their stories reflect an incredible creative God.
IMAGE BY JULIE PARKER PHOTOGRAPHY
HOW I REALLY KNEW IT WAS FOR ME:
I've always been self-motivated, independent, a risk-taker, and persistent. Since discovering the Enneagram, I've learned that it makes total sense because I am a type 8. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, do yourself a favour and research the Enneagram, take the test, and research your type! Trust me!) There are several things about my personality that have allowed me to start and run my own business, and do so with passion and excellence. While I think that every person has a talent and gift to offer the world, I don't think anyone can become a photographer. It takes ability + personality. I'm married to a type 9 who is perfectly content working for someone else and being told what he can or cannot do. Nope, not me!
(I believe Type 3 + 8's are more likely to become entrepreneurs)
Brent always told me, "You could be incredibly talented at photography, but if you lack the skills required to run a business and work with people, you'll never make it." I think it can work the other way, too. You can be really good with people and know how to run a business, but if you aren't good at the craft, then it's pointless.
IF YOU'RE THINKING ABOUT BECOMING A PHOTOGRAPHER:
1. It's important to determine whether or not this is going to be a hobby, or if you're going to be professional and charge people for this. I personally do not think it's wise for people who are unsure to be charging others for their hobby. If it's a hobby, stick with close friends/family, or find a photographer or business that you could volunteer for!
2. If you are going to start charging people and want to make a living out of this, find a mentor! You know I'm always available. Feed your soul and grow grow GROW! You'll avoid certain mistakes that we had to learn the hard way. (P.S - I'm offering 1:1 mentoring sessions! Just click here if you're down to becoming friends!!)
3. If you're good at photography but lack the basic skills needed to run a business or don't have the time/patience to do this full time, but you still want to make money- become a second shooter! Wedding photographers will hire others to assist them, all you have to do is show up, take photos, and hand them over to the photographer.