I wanted to share with you guys my story of my more than 10 years in the photo industry; from where I started to where I am today. I think you guys are going to take away a lot from this. For those of you that are just starting, I'm so jealous that you get to know all these things ahead of time. I wish that I knew them when I first started!
Since high school, I had always been interested in photography. But when I first launched my photography business, I actually decided to drop out of college. I gave myself an ultimatum. I said, “Listen, if I can book X amount of shoots and bring in X amount of dollars, I'm going to drop out of college.” I was living with my grandma, totally broke. (In fact, I actually have a screenshot that I only had $0.81 in my bank account, which was super depressing.) I decided I was going to make it happen.
I wouldn't advise this, but I actually launched my photography career on Craigslist after I ended up booking some weddings. But, what happened next is stuff that I wish I wouldn't have had to go through and I'm going to share that with you.
I thought weddings were the only way that you could make money in the photo industry (spoiler alert: dead wrong), so I started doing weddings. I did them for years, and I lost all my nights and weekends. I was getting bossed around during photo shoots. I was so busy doing 16-hour long wedding days. After about three or four years of going through this, I was like, “Man, this is not the life that I want.” I remember saying to my now-husband, Aaron, “Honey, I would rather be working at McDonald's right now.” That's when I knew that I needed to shift my business.
The next question that one of my clients asked me literally changed my life. She said, “Molly, would you be willing to take pictures of me in lingerie to give as a gift to my husband?” I know you might be thinking, “How is that life-changing?” But I had no idea that boudoir photography was a thing. I was nervous, but I agreed to do this shoot. I did it. I was nervous. she was nervous. We both lacked confidence, and I thought, “Man, this is a really tall order.” But we started shooting and I showed her one of the first images on the back of the camera, and we cried together because it was amazing. I could tell that she felt how amazing that she looked. She could actually believe in her beauty and feel that. I remember in that moment, I thought, “This is it. I don't have to quit doing weddings and work at McDonald's. I can quit doing weddings and do boudoir photography.”
That's exactly what I did over the next year. I transitioned slowly out of weddings and into boudoir. I was actually able to double my income that year focusing solely on boudoir.
Learn along the way. You don't have to do things because you think that that's the way it has to be done, or because someone tells you that that's the way that you have to do it. People might tell you, you have to go to college or even try to plan your life out for you. You have to follow your heart and do what you love, because making money doing something that you hate is totally not worth it!