A message blinked on my phone. It was Maggie, one of the spunky seniors I had photographed over the summer. I had fallen in love with her sharp wit and dynamic, even sometimes flamboyant personality. She wanted to shadow me and write about her experience observing my small business for her English class. The next few days I wracked my brain trying evaluate why I love what I do. My train of thought was a bit scattered but sobering. "What do I do in a day? What about a week?... What have I done in the last seven years??!!" Well, the obvious answer was shoot pictures! Of course, every photographer will tell you that's only a small percent of their time... the rest is devoted to creating a successful BUSINESS and making a living!

Then it hit me... I"m not afraid to change the rules. I add ingredients to my business that make me happy. I create challenges for myself to keep my work interesting and exhilarating! OK! Now we're on to something worth writing a paper about!!

I have always had a certain fondness for interior design. Nothing makes me happier then to pull apart all the pieces in a room just to rearrange it - talk about a sense of accomplishment eh, ladies??!

How does this fondness of design fit into my business? I offer complimentary visits to my clients homes. I dive into closets of all shapes and sizes to constructing outfits that fit perfectly with the rooms designated to host my images. This brings a flavor of a clients' home decor and color palettes into their portraits and ties it all in a perfect bow. When necessary I start from scratch! Shopping for each member of the family to pull together the perfect coordinating (but never matching) outfits. (Yes, here I acknowledge to being a stereotypical "girl" and admit that I find a good "shop" quite exhilarating!)

What began as only hobbies has evolved into a sustainable business that offers new challenges, even daily. So what am I attributing this to? The courage to push back against a stereotype and to become more then just a photographer but rather the creator of my own job description. How can you do this too? Take time to learn and develop YOUR OWN strengths and talents. Don't give into building your entire career on a passing trend and be honest with yourself about your own strengths and weaknesses. There ya go Maggie, I hope that's enough to write a paper on!

For the day of the job shadow I decided to flip the tables on Maggie and asked her to bring in her favorite clothes. I also invited fashionista and photographer Hilary (Hilary Elise - Her Luxe Life) to give me a hand. Together we styled Maggie's clothes and took her out on a mini photo shoot. To kick things off we chatted over grilled goat cheese and apple sandwiches on the pros and cons of owning your own business. Then... the long awaited styling session! I might have gotten a little wild in creating a feather hairpiece just for Maggie and adding red lipstick to the mix! Time flew by as I explained each step of the way my process and thoughts on clothing, hair, make up, posing and constructing shots! Thanks, Maggie for presenting me an opportunity to critically examine my methodology - you're a doll!

Laura

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