How to Quit Your Day Job and Start a Children’s Portrait Studio
How can you spot a new parent? They’re the ones scrambling to find extra photo storage space on their iPhones because they’ve documented every single cute moment of their newborn’s life. Photographing kids and bringing out their natural adorableness can give you loads of creative baby photo ideas, like Photoshopping your babe flying with a colorful umbrella or doodling fantastic images around your little one’s perfect poses. If you’ve ever wondered how to turn your passion for children’s photography into a full-fledged career, in this week’s How to Quit Your Day Job series, we chat with Laura Novak Meyer, the founder of Little Nest Portraits, about starting a family-friendly business while balancing life as a mom.
Laura Novak Meyer had a booming business as a high-end wedding photographer when she decided to quit and start an entirely new venture — a family photography retail concept. “I noticed a gap in the marketplace for a luxury boutique photography experience in a retail setting. So I decided to shift away from weddings and launch Little Nest Portraits,” says Laura. Little Nest Portraits was born out Laura’s desire to start a franchise company that would allow women to be successful entrepreneurs with a healthy work-life balance. Now with nine locations across the US, Laura has grown her concept with photography studios in Colorado, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and more, that work with families from maternity through a child’s teen years.
Tips for Getting Started
1. Just do it. If you’d love to be a children’s photographer, Laura suggests just getting started. She recommends practicing with your own kids or friends’ children to see if this is something you’d seriously like to pursue. “Don’t be afraid of making a mistake, or not doing everything perfectly. Each step is a learning experience and helps you get closer to who you really are as an artist and creative professional,” says Laura.
2. Be real. As a children’s portrait photographer, you must love working with families and translating their big milestone moments and stories into images that will last forever. “We work very hard to learn and understand the individual stories of our guests and tell it through photography. For example, one of our studios is doing an adoption series on their blog right now, which is generating a lot of traffic and is incredibly moving. There is no formula to doing this well. It comes from an authentic care and concern for our guests,” says Laura.
3. Do what you love. Laura dishes career advice on her personal blog, The Joy-Preneur, and her motto is, “Do what you love, love what you do.” It’s easy to get caught up in the many trials and tribulations of running your own company, but Laura writes, “Loving what we do and experiencing joy while doing it takes intention, discipline and habit.” For more #girlboss inspiration, tune into Laura’s podcast for interviews with other successful women entrepreneurs about how they make their dream jobs come true.
4. Attract the right people. Part of the reason why Laura started Little Nest is that she craved fostering a creative community with other like-minded people. “It was difficult to grow and develop talent within an independent studio. I loved photographing clients, but missed mentoring new talent. Our company tends to attract smart, creative, thoughtful, positive people, and that makes me excited,” says Laura.
5. It takes a village. As a mom of two kids, ages two and three, Laura knows firsthand the delicate balancing act it takes to be a mother and a full-time business owner. She credits her husband, family and friends for being her tribe and support system. She shares that practicing balance might not happen on the same day, but can happen in that same week. “For example, I might have a work-related call at night, but then take a half day off of work to pick up my children early from preschool the following day,” says Laura.
6. Lose the drama. When Laura started Little Nest Portraits, she shares that it was easy to focus entirely on making everyone else around her happy while self-sacrificing her own needs. “It felt like I could never do enough, and this activity constantly absorbed my attention away from growing my business, living my life to the fullest and taking care of our customers. It was so disempowering to everyone involved!” says Laura. By shifting her leadership role to more of a mindset as a mentor and coach while changing how she works, Laura eliminated the earlier dramas.
7. You’ll figure it out. Trust that you got this and go forward. Laura says, “You are way more capable than you realize.” She shares that no entrepreneur is 100 percent prepared for running their own business, and by learning from those humbling opportunities, you can figure out how truly capable you are. “All women need to accept that they’ll figure it out as part of their journey,” says Laura.
8. Empower your team. Laura works with studio owners who hire staff for the family-focused portrait photography studios, and she knows that empowering each team member makes her business run more smoothly. “We have open and honest communication. The talented women who are part of Little Nest make incredibly smart decisions when we work that way,” says Laura.
Perfect Your Skills
1. Portrait Photography Online Class ($39): Learn alongside self-taught professional portrait photographer Sarah Deragon, who runs a studio called Portraits to the People. Sarah will show you the basics of lighting, posing and editing photos to get you started.
2. Phone Photography Basics Online Class ($29): If you’ve wanted to take better camera phone shots with natural light, Helene Sula, a top blogger, shows you the tricks to capturing super stylin’ professional-looking shots.
3. Finding, Defining and Marketing Your Photographic Style ($129): Sure, you love taking photographs and you’re pretty great at it, but you’re wondering how you can turn that into a marketable and sellable skill. Portrait photographer Julia Kelleher will help you identify your signature style to help you stand out from the crowd.
What’s your dream career? Tweet us @BritandCo to let us know, and we could feature it in the next column!
(Photos via Little Nest Portraits)