Alright moms (and dads) -- we've got a treat for you today!
When you got engaged, married, had a baby, and/or hit any major life milestones, you probably hired a professional photographer to document the big moment, right?
If you are like me, you may have wondered what it takes to become a photographer (aside from gobs of talent and patience, of course) and whether or not it is a lucrative work-from-home position... well, today we are getting all of our questions answered, thanks to the amazing Sharon Holck!
Sharon is a wife, mommy to a darling little girl, and photographer who lives in Hawaii (#goals), loves Fixer Upper (a girl after my own heart), and can always be found in a pair of mismatched socks :) She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from Pratt Institute in New York and is THE person to go to for not only gorgeous photos, but also honest answers to all things business related.
Sharon, please tell us a little bit about yourself: we know that you are an extremely talented photographer and busy mommy, but what else do you do in terms of either work or hobbies?
A little less than a year ago, I decided that it was time to get myself into better shape. I joined a local Stroller Strides group to get a chance to socialize with other moms as well as letting my daughter Riley play with kids her age. I know I'm not alone in saying staying at home can get isolating so this has really helped with me personally. We spend usually almost two hours with this group a few times week. I feel like I have this happy medium between stay at home and working mom because I work 3 nights a week at a restaurant being a photo host. They're short shifts that allow me to really only miss 3 of my daughters awake hours while still bringing in that little bit of extra money for bills or for building my photography business.
Have you always been in a creative line of work or is photography the first?
I have always been a creative person. I remember when I was little I was obsessed with making my own books. I would draw like as many zoo or water animals as I could and write little stories to go with my pictures. I also loved painting and drawing. I thought photography kind of came later but I was going through some old pictures and found that I've been kind of playing with cameras since I was maybe 7.
What got you into photography? Have you always had a knack for or interest in it?
My brother actually started me on my photography path. We are 10 years apart and so he was a big role model in my life. I wanted to be just like him. He always carried a camera around and when I was about 13 I told my parents I wanted a camera just like he does and they bought me this dinky little digital camera. I took a lot of pictures of animals and plants and my brother would always give me little lessons or projects for me to try and do. Over time, I started getting a lot of compliments from my family that my pictures were good but I had no idea I could make a living off of it. It was just a hobby. In college, I planned to go to veterinary school but I didn't get in. I didn't know what else to do so I took a photography class along side my other classes and fell in deep. I decided, this is what I wanted to do.
What inspired you to start Sharon Holck Photography? Can you share with us what it takes to start your own photography business?
When I actually started, my dream was to be a landscape and travel photographer for National Geographic. I kind of had this idea that I would shoot portraits for money but inspire to one day work and travel for them. That really changed though once I had my daughter. She was a complete surprise and honestly really scared me, but the idea of photographing her really got me through those first weeks and really helped my connection with her. I changed my focus completely to kid and family photography but my why was still missing. I knew I needed to figure out why my passion for photographing families was so strong in order to make me as a photographer stand out. It wasn't until one day at my restaurant job that I came across a man who I photographed a picture of him and his grandson. He loved the picture and wanted it but his wife didn't want to buy it. I couldn't bear to let him leave without it and printed him a small version of it before he left. I returned to my station knowing one day that little boy is just going to love that picture of him and his grandpa. I thought about my mom who passed away when I was a teenager and how I cherish every picture I have of me and her together and it all clicked. I photograph because I want to create a treasure that will only get sweeter as time goes on for every family.
There is obviously a lot more to being a photographer than just pointing the camera and clicking, so can you share what the process looks like and how much time you devote to most clients?
I think what it takes to start your own photography business is really knowing your why and your goals. It is one thing to love photography because trust me, I stayed there for years. Even when I already knew I wanted to be a photographer, my work still seemed flat until I figured out what drives me. You really need to take time to think about what makes you tick, what makes you special enough to make people want to hire you. You can take good pictures, but if you aren't passionate about the work you are doing, there will be always someone better they could work with.
I'll admit, that I am still in the beginnings of my photography business. So there has been a lot of testing the waters on my exact client experience. So far, I try to first bring all my clients through a small set of questions designed for me to get to know them, searching for at least something in common with them. We talk about locations, reasons for the session, and all that good stuff. While my packages all come with a time limit, I don't actually set a timer for these. My goal in the end is to create the best gallery of pictures possible for my clients. If I can get that done in 20 mins, that's cool. If it takes me an hour and a half then that is awesome too. After that I quickly edit 3-5 pictures as a sneak peek to deliver to them within 24 hours of their session and then depending on how much my daughter naps and sleeps, will depend on how fast I get through their editing. I give myself a 2 week turnaround but most times I'm done in a few days which equals probably between 10-15 hours of editing per job.
How do you market yourself and your business? Is there a certain platform (your website, FB, Instagram, etc.) that you would recommend to other mom bosses?
For the longest time I mostly used a facebook page. My business has had a lot of false starts so the page never did really well. I am really a little over a year of hardcore working on my business every single day to start getting it somewhere. I have been working really hard on my instagram and figuring out how to use instagram stories for people to get to know me. My brother and I are currently working on a full rebrand for my business and will be launching a new website hopefully in the next month or so through Showit.co.
Lastly, I started a blog a little under a year ago and since publishing it and keeping up with it, I have noticed a real build in my client base. I try to keep it pretty casual. On Monday's I try to focus more on mommy life going over what we've been up to as a family, or sharing tips, funny stories and all that jazz. And then on Thursdays I post photography related posts that deal with my photo sessions or thoughts on photography.
And now for my favorite question: Do you have a favorite work memory that you can share (whether it be sweet, funny, etc.)?
I am totally like the most clumsy and ditzy photographer ever I swear. I think in front of almost all my clients I either will have a time where I am about to start photographing and I forget the lens cap is on or I just don't watch where I'm stepping and trip or fall into something. It's a miracle I haven't broken any bones or equipment yet. But perhaps one of my most recent fun photo memories was I recently did an even through Stroller Strides where moms could donate toys to a children's hospital and I would take some Valentine's Day pictures. I had 12 back to back photography sessions in my home cause we got rained out. I had set up a studio in our dining room and set up a play room so kids could play and wait. My daughter (she's 2) has been photographed so much she is becoming my little mini me and it cracks me up. As families would walk in, she would greet the kids and tell them to come. She would bring the to the back drop and tell them where to sit and then to look at me and say "cheese!" Which I don't even know where she got that from cause I don't even tell her to say cheese but just to smile or look at me. At one point, I'm photographing a family and she comes and grabs her play camera and sits next to me and starts calling them and taking her own pictures. I really wish someone would have snapped a picture of it cause it was so darn cute! If any kids were a little scared she would even jump into the photos and hold their hands or pat their back and try to make them see it was okay. I just love how much of a little helper she is becoming and I wonder if one day we might become a family business.