Taking steps and leaving the security of the 9-5

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by Naturegirl, Jun 8, 2007.

  1. Naturegirl

    Naturegirl TPF Noob!

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    So, I'm nowhere near being as pro as some of you, and I have a lot to learn yet, but I'm confident enough in myself that this is something I can excel at and make it. Everywhere I look, I see a photo opportunity and everything I see I'm constantly composing into a picture in my mind. I'm so bored with the paper pushing 9-5 job and I can't continue it.

    So, this is my dilemma. I have an empty office that I'm going to transform into a studio, and I've talked to my developer a bit about getting it set up and I think I know what I need in terms of equipment. I know I'm not ready to make it my full time business right now. I need to practice in the studio and get comfortable with it and really know what I'm doing.

    It's scary to think about leaving the comfort & stability & of course the security of my 9-5 job, but I feel like I have to. It's eating away at me and I feel like the more time I spend here the more it's sucking the artistic part of me away. The more I work, the less time I spend on my passion and what I truly want to do.

    I see many threads started here with people wanting to go pro...and it's not only what I WANT to do, I feel that it's what I'm meant to do. It's just really scary to think about being completely responsible for ensuring the money is coming in and for running a business. My other half has his own business and I know it's a lot of work. That doesn't really intimidate me, because I spend nearly 12 hours on this job if you count it from the time I roll out of bed, til the time I pick the kids up after. The hours, that is, don't intimidate me, but it's the uncertainty of how much $$ is coming in from week to week or month to month.

    So, did anyone else go through this? Did you always do your own thing or have you also started out working for someone else and then leave it all to work for yourself? And did you do this with a family? What do you do about benefits/insurance? Are you able to support a family just doing portraits?

    Which leads me to another issue. I've done a few weddings and I don't want to do them frequently. Is it possible to survive & make a living without doing weddings?

    What steps did you take from the time you decided to leave the day job & pursue a career? What were the most important issues you faced and how long did it take to get yourself comfortable enough to leave your job?

    I would LOVE to just quit, take my retirement money & use that to get me started & going, and if it were just me, I'd probably do it, but I have really great benefits right now & couldn't leave that on a whim since I have kids.
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I've seen & heard it done in different ways. Some people just up and quit their jobs and jump in head first. Other people hold off, keeping their day job (and benefits) for as long as possible.

    I'm in the second group...I'm just starting to do a fair bit of pro work but I don't see myself giving up my day job soon. I like my day job, I get paid fairly well and I continue to get raises and promotions on a regular basis. (it doens't hurt that it also allows me to be very active on here ;))

    The way I see it, it would really help if you built up a client base. Portrait customers can tend to be repeat customers...especially clients with children. So if you can make sure that you have certain amount of regular customers...it's not so much of a risk to quit the job.

    Also, I personally think that it would be a good idea to get most everything set up and running before you quit your job. Make sure that you actually can make a go of it with your home studio. You don't want to quit, only to find out that a home studio isn't your thing. The actual photography part should be a given...then when you do quit, use that extra time for marketing etc.

    In the end, this is a deeply personal issue...and you have to follow your heart. Good luck :thumbsup:
     
  3. NJMAN

    NJMAN TPF Noob!

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    Well said Mike!

    I completely agree with this. I am in a somewhat similar situation in that I also have a day job that pays well and has benefits, and I get regular raises, vacation, and the lot. Not to mention that I have been at the same job for nearly 9 years. I would be a fool to give that all up and not know where my income will be coming from tomorrow or next week. I have worked hard to get where I am in my career, but since 2 years ago, I decided to really pursue my love for photography and I will stop at nothing to turn pro eventually. Only since last August (or thereabout) have I been getting really serious about learning and honing my craft, and this forum has helped tremdously.

    In addition to the job, I also have a family to think of, and even though my dream is to do pro photography full time, I know Im not ready yet. I would rather put in the time and experience and pay my dues on the side than just jump right in. I agree that it is smart to market yourself well and build up a healthy client base first. Then, if you continue to put your heart into your photography, you will eventually have more work than you can handle, and you will know its time to take that plunge to full time and leave the paper pushing job to someone else.

    Good luck with your decision. :)
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I've just thought of something else, what about a part time job? If you (or I) could find a good part time job that would still give benefits...that might be a nice compromise...or at least a way to bridge the gap between day job and full time photographer. Up here where I live, there are not that many weddings in the winter, so it might make sense for me to concentrate on photography in the summer and something else in the winter...who knows.

    As for doing weddings, I'm sure there are many portrait photographers who don't do weddings. Weddings are completely different from portraits...the photography may be somewhat similar but the atmosphere is quite different. I can see why a lot of photographers would rather not do them. However, if it means being able to support your photography business...a few weddings here and there might be necessary. Not to mention that weddings are great places to pick up clients by networking.
     
  5. Naturegirl

    Naturegirl TPF Noob!

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    That's kind of where I am. I've been here for 10 years (I'm vested), and sometimes think it would be stupid to leave, but the benefits get worse every year and I don't enjoy the work anymore. Never really "enjoyed" it, but it wasn't awful. I'm just starting to realize that time is ticking away and while I'm getting older, I'm still pretty young (30) and now is the time to do something before I get to the point where I have 25 years in and 15 more years behind me wasted doing something I don't enjoy, even if it does have it's benefits.

    The only thing about keeping my day job & trying to do this on the side is the time factor. I have NO time with my schedule now. I could probably make a little more, but I'd have to take away from the already too short time I have with my children and I don't know if I could sacrifice that....not at this age anyway. I know there's got to be a balance somewhere, but where?
    The part time thing COULD be possible. Even where I am now. Still scary making that leap though.

    Thing is, I love looking at wedding pictures, and I love taking the portraits themselves (of the wedding party), but it's the anxiousness & stress that I get during the ceremony "I can't miss this shot....I can't miss this shot....I can't miss this shot." then someone steps in front of you right at that moment and you miss the shot :grumpy: . I've never had a bad experience, really, shooting a wedding, and in fact, the last one I did (last year) I had more fun than ever, but it's a LOT of stress. And mostly, I wouldn't want all my weekends booked up all summer. But I think maybe I could handle doing one or two a season.
     
  6. Naturegirl

    Naturegirl TPF Noob!

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    And thanks for commenting :)
     
  7. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    Well the last real 9to5 non photo job was in 1969 so I'm not a good one to as. But my son in law is just about at the point of leaving the secruity of his day job. He is dying to, but he kept right on adding expenses all the way through the run up to it. Now his overhead is going to eat him up if he quits. Also there is that insurance and retirement thing to think about. Best to marry someone with good benefits if possible. Helps a lot with the insurance. Even better if he/she has a good job.

    There are also a lot of really low paying photo contracts for those slow weekdays. Most photographers wont take them but I never had a problem lowering myself to do it. I think a lot of those are gone now that everybody and their six year old has a digital camera.
     
  8. NJMAN

    NJMAN TPF Noob!

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    Involve your children in your photography. I am actually teaching my 8 year old son how to weild my Canon right now and showing him some simple techniques. He loves the individual attention. My 10 year old daughter has a Panasonic point and shoot, and she uses it all the time, shooting alongside me a lot of the time. As for my other 2 younger ones, they just love to pose and be in the photos, but when they are not in the picture, they love looking at my shots in the preview screen. Its a great way to spend some quality time with your kids and also get some practice. Just a thought. :)
     
  9. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    My son in law is trying to find a way to deal with that as well. He tries to explain to my daughter about priorities but he really doesn't grasp it himself just yet. The shock will come one day.
     
  10. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    Consider a job on the edge of photography, such as media consultant for a large corporation, presenter, producer of a company newsletter etc,

    You can then have the benefits of a regular job where you can integrate your photographic skills at the expense of the company. It also enables you through your contacts, to build your reputation and get offered private jobs such as corporate portraits, weddings, event photography, public relations work etc.

    skieur
     
  11. Naturegirl

    Naturegirl TPF Noob!

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    :)

    I'm always taking pictures of them, and they LOVE it. They love being on MY side of it more, however, and a word of advice from me to myself......3 year old twin boys and a big pile of dirt does not equal quality experimentation. It equals a very dirty and hopefully not scratched lens.

    Three is yet a bit young to understand that you do NOT under any circumstances throw a handful of dirt at mommy when she has her very expensive camera in her hand.
     
  12. Elli

    Elli TPF Noob!

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    I totally sympathize and relate as I have two boys 11 months apart - 3 1/2 and 2 1/2 years old. :lmao:
     

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