This guest blog post is brought to you by Rhonda Samuels with Rhonda Samuels Photography, a member of our Advisory Team. Rhonda specializes in wedding and portrait photography. She started her photography business after her kids left for college, and so we asked her to share about her experience starting later in life.
That was the question I had to ask myself six years ago when my daughter was a senior in high school and my son was in college. What now?
At the time, I was currently working for a school photographer. I had always had a camera, and I loved taking pictures. Then a few friends ask me to take their child’s senior portraits or family portraits. Though I’m grateful for these initial opportunities, I won’t be showing you any of those images. Let’s just say that I’ve come a long way, and I’ll leave it at that! After working for some friends, I started thinking and wondering if I could do photography for a living, actually be my own boss, and charge people to take their picture. I told myself if I was going to try – I wanted to be the best I could be!
So, I went back to college at Mount San Jacinto College, the local community college in our area. Yes, I was the oldest one in my class in case, if you were wondering. I felt like I was in school with my kids and their friends. I took all of the core photography classes, a Photoshop class, and a business class. I decided the degree was out of the question – there was no way I was taking Math and English, but I would go for my certification. It took me three years to finish, but I did it and received my Certificate in Photography!
My last semester in school, I went to WPPI in Las Vegas to soak up all of the photography information I could get my hands on. I was still a student, so it was cheap! It was a little overwhelming, but I learned so much and was excited to get started.
Now it was time to make it official! Daunting at first, but it wasn’t that difficult to do to hit the ground running.
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Then reality hit and I was asking myself, “Now what do I do?” It’s been a learning process for sure. I had to get over the comparison game and just be who God made me to be. To do that I connected with groups on Facebook, like The Law Tog, where I learned about contracts, model releases, print releases, and what I needed and didn’t need to make my business legal. I went to Photoshop World the first year in business and back to WPPI my second year in business. And my business really started to grow when I joined a networking group through BNI. Groups like these are not just about referrals, but introducing you to local small business owners who can provide immense support. Growing my photography business hasn’t always been easy, but it’s been worth it for sure!
If you’re pondering what to do later in life, or you’re still young and trying to figure out what direction to take, don’t doubt yourself. Just do it! You may fail or you may succeed, but you’ll never know if you don’t at least try. You’ll have ups and you’ll have down, but you won’t have regrets. And who knows, you might just rock it!