It’s been about a month since I became a full-time business owner, and even though I started my business over six years ago, I’m always learning something new. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart, and I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. As hard as running your own business is, it is much more rewarding. Although hindsight is always 20/20, there are a few things I wish I had known before starting my entrepreneurial journey. After reflecting on the past few years, here’s what to know before starting a business.
As a boss and solo business owner, there really is no “downtime.” I am learning to batch my time and create a productive schedule, but my mind is always on business, even when I have time off. When I’m not working, I think about marketing techniques, emails to send out, social media strategies, etc. When you love what you do, it becomes all-encompassing. I carve out family time, put my phone away, and be as present in the moment as I can be. Since running my business full-time, I’ve even implemented social media-free Sundays, which is a work in progress.
I charged $100 for my first photo session. At the time, I was so grateful and happy anyone wanted to pay me to take their photos. When I look back at it now, it was definitely a loss when it comes to profitability. It takes money to run a profitable and sustainable business. The cost of running a business includes a minimum of annual licensing fees from your state, website hosting, business insurance, and the equipment required to operate the business. For my business that would include cameras, digital cards, computers, and editing software.
When you’re a solo business owner, you also have things to think about, like health insurance, life insurance, and paying into retirement. If you’re a past client of mine, it’s no secret that my prices have increased, but I’ve also added value to what I offer. Clients have the option of a studio space, and you will receive tangible products at the end of each session. Believing your worth and pricing yourself to be profitable from the very beginning is very helpful in the long run for your business.
Being a creative business owner can be really lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. I attend at least one networking event per quarter to mingle with other like-minded business owners. I also have photographer friends I can call on when I have questions about something or when I want to meet for coffee and socialize. It also helps to have hobbies outside of your business, like traveling and bookclub! Besides hanging with actual people, I consume like-minded business podcasts while I’m editing, in the car, or out for a walk. Experts say you’re most like the top 5 people you surround yourself with. This includes what you consume, so listen and follow wisely!
While there is a lot to know before starting your business, these are some of the main things to remember. You want to price your business to be profitable from the beginning, which will alleviate having to change your pricing structure while in the middle of running your business. Trends change, and sometimes it’s just inevitable. Networking can also put you in touch with the right people to help you run your business successfully. Running a successful business is hard work, but the payoff is worth it!
Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful and exciting times in a woman’s life. Your body is performing a miracle—you are growing another person inside you! Let that sink in for a minute. As exciting and beautiful as this time can be, sometimes you feel anything but. If this is your first pregnancy, your changing body might feel foreign to you. It might not seem like it now, but before you know it, you’ll be holding a newborn baby in your arms, and your pregnancy will seem like a distant memory. This is where maternity photos come in.
I love having my own photo studio located by the lake in Milwaukee. It provides a space to create the cutest spring photos the day after a snowstorm. Despite having a winter storm warning last weekend in Milwaukee, I didn’t anticipate the amount of snow we actually got. Thanks to all my clients for being so flexible. I shuffled around the schedule, and we managed to get everyone rebooked.
One thing I aim to incorporate into all of my photoshoots is some element of nature. Whether that’s plants, being outside, or some natural texture, I love what it does for my photos. For this particular backdrop, I used an assortment of wildflowers from Trader Joe’s to give it a fun, carefree vibe. Trader Joe’s has a great selection of flowers to choose from, and their prices are unbeatable. They have a Floral Tips & Tricks video on their homepage now, so go check it out!
My first client of the day was a cute family of 5. The kids LOVED the flowers and even took a few home with them. We had so much fun running around, cuddling up, and playing with the flowers.
The second clients of the day were my most memorable wedding couple to date; Katie and Jim. They’re the most memorable because they were a Covid couple who got married in their living room in the spring of 2020 while their friends planned a surprise car parade for them afterward. They went on to have a big reception in April 2022, and now they’re expecting their first baby this spring! I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to capture all of these wonderful milestones. Thank you, Katie, for bringing my floral maternity dreams to life! I can’t wait to meet your baby soon!
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Does the thought of planning a photo session and everything that goes with it drive you into panic? Relax, I’ve got you! Last month, I was chatting with a fellow mom at a social event. I told her what I did and she responded by telling me that she’s never had a professional photo shoot with her family, that everyone online just looks so perfect, and the process seemed too overwhelming. Let me be the first (of I’m sure many) to tell you, what appears online is not real life. Instagram is a highlight reel; even when I share a tough parenting moment in my captions, it’s always paired with a beautiful photo.
Below, are some tips that I give my clients to help alleviate some stress when it comes to planning their photo sessions. Leave your thoughts in the comments and let me know if you’ve done anything that’s not on the list!
When you book a signature session with The Framed Narrative, all clients receive a full guide on what to expect and how to prepare for their session.
A smash cake session is a milestone photo opportunity celebrating a baby’s one year birthday. Typically, your little one eats/smashes/gets messy with cake! It’s a fun and simple way for your child to experiment with something new. Turning one is a big deal, so this photoshoot is a great way to capture this season of life. Scroll down to see what the session all entails at our Milwaukee studio!
Smash cake sessions will take place at our Milwaukee studio. After you book a session with us, you will receive an email on what to expect and how to plan. A few weeks before the session, you and I will work together to come up with a theme, decorations, and an overall look for your photoshoot. On the day you come into the studio, we will take a few photos of just your child, give them the cake and let them have fun and enjoy all its deliciousness! Because I love to photograph parents with their children, I stronglyencourage the parents to get in on the fun as well, so plan accordingly. Want one less thing to carry with you? Order from our exclusive cake partner and get the smash cake delivered right to the studio!
Interested in a photoshoot or want to know more? Click the button below to get more details on booking a session!
2022 was a big year. I finally had the opportunity to travel for fun again and started the year off with a trip to St. Martin with my mom. I wanted to take her somewhere nice and relaxing as a thank you for everything she’s done to support me and St. Martin exceeded all expectations. As I write this out now and it’s a crisp 30 degrees outside, I can’t help but want to be back there. Our time mostly consisted of laying on the beach, reading books and enjoying the local food and drinks! We did manage to fit in a hike and island tour.
I opened a studio. In late February, I was casually browsing the internet one afternoon and came across a listing that would become my Milwaukee Eastside studio space. I called a friend of mine who deals with commercial real estate and he and I toured it, I told him the vision I had in mind and he said that he thought it could work. A few weeks later, I was signing a lease and receiving the keys to my first studio space.
Over the next few months, I worked with a contractor to demo the space and turn it into the vision I had in my head. After many lessons learned, some tears, and lots of deep breathing, I hosted an open house for all my family and friends in September and it was so comforting to have so much love and support from those around me.
I got more time back with my girls. In the middle of July, their dad left for a 6 month deployment, leaving me to be a full-time single parent. It was definitely an adjustment for everyone, but just as it was challenging to balance it all, it was equally, if not more, joyful to have this time with them. Having been deployed myself over the span of 10 years, I’ve missed a lot of time with them so I looked at this time as a way to kind of make up for that.
I met so many new babies. I photographed so many new babies this year. I LOVE lifestyle newborn photography. I love capturing those precious memories of the first few months at home snuggled up with a new baby, where there is no concept of time.
I photographed my last wedding. In the middle of this year, Maria Campbell Photography became The Framed Narrative, which means “a story within a story”. I had a few reasons behind the name change, but ultimately I wanted to rebrand and letting go of weddings was part of that. 2020 was a pivotal year for me personally. I was learning how to navigate life as a newly single mom, leaving one identity behind while embracing another, and realizing what really mattered to me. For the past 6 years, I’ve been so blessed and honored to be part of a couple’s most important day, but capturing motherhood, newborn babies and family sessions are what truly lit me up. I went from being with my girls every weekend to now only having them two weekends a month and I found myself saying no to a lot of weddings because the inquiries were falling on my time with them.
So there it is, 2022 in a nutshell and to say it flew by would be an understatement. I’m very much looking forward to all the big changes that are coming in 2023. Thanks for reading, being part of it all and stay tuned!
A newborn lifestyle session is completely different than at the studio. First of all, it is done in the comfort of your own home. Secondly, there is very little posing or props involved. Moments happen organically, as they do in real life, and I’m there to document them so that you can look back 6 months, 12 months, 10 years from now and remember those early days of when your baby fit into the nook of your arm or slept for hours on end on your chest.
I’ve heard some hesitation with lifestyle shoots like, “The lighting isn’t good enough” or “Our home isn’t decorated” but all of that is workable and sometimes even welcome. I’m there to document your life in real time. Below, I’ve included some tips on how to help you prepare for your lifestyle newborn shoot. I also send out a questionnaire and correspond with all of my clients so that we both know what to expect come session day. That also gives us another opportunity to address any concerns that you might have.
Find the light. Watch the light in your home, specifically in areas where we plan to shoot the most (typically this includes the living room/family room, nursery, and master bedroom). Shut the lights off in your home and see when you have the most natural light in each of these rooms. That will help us determine what time of day will be best to photograph in.
Let go of imperfect. Let go of the idea of having a “picture perfect” house (you just had a baby or you’re about to) and picture perfect siblings. I’m there to capture your life in real time. I don’t want your child looking at the camera. Babies cry and kids run around. That is life and that is your life right now. Embrace the chaos and don’t stress out about it. There’s beauty in every moment.
Pick your outfits carefully. There are some instances where wording on a t-shirt works. But trying to get a toddler to sit still so that we can see his “big brother” t-shirt may be an impossible feat. Neutrals tend to photograph best in home. Pair simple basics with texture and overlays. I typically tell moms to plan their outfits first and then coordinate the family’s outfit around that. If you want to infuse bold colors into your session, kids and accessories are where it’s done best. Another thing to think about is nail polish. While I love a fun and bold manicure, it can be distracting when it comes to newborn photographs, so try to keep the nails as natural as possible.
Relax and have fun! This is your family so relax! The camera knows when you’re tense, so just relax and pretend like there’s no one else there. I will let you know if I need you to look at the camera.
Want some tips on how to take your own newborn photos at the hospital? Click HERE to download my free guide!
Back in September, I hosted an open house and officially opened up my studio for business! Thank you so much to all of those who came out to support me. I had so much fun going through the cards and little messages you all wrote.
A special thank you goes out to my mom and my sister for helping me (but actually doing it!) with the charcuterie cups and the photo stand. And a big thanks goes out to my significant other for helping me hang all the shelves and photos. You guys are truly amazing and I most definitely couldn’t have done it without you.
Now let’s chat about the studio! The build out was a whole process and I learned so much along the way. Pulling permits, scheduling city inspections and finding contractors were all things that were new to me. The space had been vacant for 3 years before I came along and it was a massage area off of a spa which used to be next door. Carpet was replaced with LVP flooring, walls were torn down and painted and drop ceiling tiles were brought down to really open the space up. Although there were some tears to be had, I couldn’t be more happy with how it turned out!
A lot of people have asked me, “What will you be using the studio for?” I will be using the studio for maternity, family and newborn sessions, senior portraits, and branding and headshot sessions. It will also be nice to have an alternate indoor spot just in case weather is inclement. For the past 5 years I’ve gotten by with renting space from other photographers as needed, but a few times space has been double booked, therefore causing me to have to reschedule with clients. Because of how my business is transitioning out of weddings and leaning into motherhood and family portraits, I felt it was time to have a studio to call my own.
Last month my oldest daughter turned TEN! 10 years of parenting fails and parenting wins. 10 years of feeling like my heart is going to explode with so much love and hope for this girl. 10 years of wondering if I’m doing this right. Through the years I’ve learned parenting is not for the faint of heart. From the time you see the first positive pregnancy test until eternity, you will worry about your children. Each stage of life has brought both its own set of joys as well as fears and has taught me so much about life and myself. Here are the top 5 things I’ve learned in my last 10 ten years of parenting.
1. Unconditional love. The love you have for your significant other is completely different than the love you have for your child; there is nothing I wouldn’t do for my children. There is simply nothing like the bond between a mother and a child.
2. Finding joy in every day. Sometimes my oldest gets caught up in a cycle of negativity (like the time I asked her how gym class was and she listed all the sports she didn’t like) so to start our day off, I’ve created a positive songs playlist we listen to on the way to school. It’s taught me to be more optimistic and teach her to find the good in situations.
3. Making memories > things. Every year we go through the toys and throw away/donate so much STUFF. I’ve learned that making memories, like our yearly Nutcracker outing, vacations and taking her to Chicago for her first Broadway musical, has more staying power than buying them all the things.
4. Be silly. Dance parties in the kitchen, car karaoke and dancing at local live bands are all part of our routine. I love that these kids fully embrace the saying of “dance like nobody’s watching.” They are truly themselves in every way possible and have taught me to be more of the same way.
5. No two children are alike. If you decide to have more than one child, you will quickly find that each one is unique. How I parent my first child is completely different from how I parent my second.
Life these these two is anything but dull. They test my patience, challenge me to think in new ways, and make me want to be a better version of myself. The title ‘Mom’ was something I never knew I wanted untilI I became one and it truly is the best.