Well as I celebrate going into my 2nd full time year in my business it got me thinking about how and why I not only started but why I do what I do.
As someone who has always loved taking photographs for as long as I can remember it’s hard to find the actual moment I decided to turn my hobby into my job.
As someone who followed the education path going to school, college, university and then full time work I always followed a path that I felt “I should” be following as everyone else was doing it.
I have always been a home bird and love being around my family so moving away to university was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I don’t think I ever did board that train back to university without tears in my eyes, but I pushed through it each time because “I should” be going to uni.
Animal daft my whole life I would borrow neighbours’ dogs to play with them and worked a weekend in all weathers at a local boarding kennels as I had always wanted to be a vet (sadly my brain didn’t get this memo!). So off to university I went to study Adult Nursing.
I have always had a caring nature and I love to be around people, I just couldn’t switch off when I got home worrying about everyone I had met. I then moved into a role within recruitment where I worked for nearly 11 years. I loved helping people to find their dream jobs or get back into work.
From meeting with candidates to interviewing and presenting I loved it all (or so I thought). When the recession hit, the role really changed, and it became so cutthroat. Not an industry my personality was suited to that’s for sure. I cared too much about the people I was working for and taking pride in my work was so difficult because you were constantly asked for figures and numbers and billing targets…. I just wanted to help to find people a new job.
I have always enjoyed my photography, and each holiday we enjoyed my camera came with me. I used to drive my husband bonkers with “stand here”, “look this way”, “move over there” … poor bloke, I can be bossy! But it was my passion, I loved looking for that photo opportunity to capture the holiday just perfectly. There is no better feeling looking at a photograph and remembering the moment you were there. You can remember the view, the sounds, the smells, the emotion just with that one picture. I capture memories- “Sarah-Louise Johnson, the memory maker” … has a nice ring to it.
So, life throws curveballs. The path I had planned in my mind and heart was taken from us and the news we couldn’t have a family hit. I wont dwell on the negatives of it because if it hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have my business.
At 31, it was a big thing, it nearly killed me as I felt I had lost my whole identity as a woman, a wife, a daughter, a sister.
3 years ago, my husband bought me my first DSLR camera to give me a way to occupy my mind in a productive, self-caring way and the words the rest is history comes to mind.
I continued my recruitment role, but my heart was no longer in it, I knew I had to find a role that would be part time, closer to home to allow me the time to really focus on my photography.
I started by practicing on my own dogs, then on other people’s dogs. I was then asked to photograph their human family and the birthday celebrations and their business launch events… it all went a little crazy to be honest.
Juggling the little part time job at my local school became a struggle as I couldn’t take on the week day bookings as I was already committed to working the afternoons. So the brave decision was made last Easter that I would leave to focus on my photography business full time.
The last year has been the most amazing year and I couldn’t have wished that my first full time year could have been the way it is.
I have met so many amazing people along the way, from newborn babies, to litters of puppies, to ruby wedding and birthday party celebrations to events empowering women. I have loved each and every minute of it.
So why have I spent the time telling you this some may ask?
I have been asked several times recently at business meetings I have been attending through The Savvy Solos Business Club a couple of questions….
The first, “ What is it you do?”
Well I am Sarah- Louise Johnson and I am a family, pet and events photographer in County Durham. I work mainly across the North East of England taking photographs of families, pets and events. A simple answer really.
But, the second question “Why do you do what you do?”
Well, I create the special memories that you will enjoy forever. I am Sarah-Louise Johnson and I am a memory maker. When you look at that framed picture or canvass that I have taken, I want you to remember the moment. I want that capture to sum up your family, your dogs, your event for exactly what it was. You will see the emotion, those tender moments and you will be able to relive that feeling, every time that you look at it.
The best thing about running my business is its mine, I have created this and I have put my heart into this. I always thought I worked hard in previous role but running your own business really is at time 24/7. You work all day on your day job …taking photographs and editing… you then have to do your administration, accounts, marketing and sales. You go to bed with a whirl of ideas circulating around her head and wake up keen to put them into action.
At the beginning of this year, I joined a business support group set up for sole business owners like me. The group have a monthly subscription and hold regular networking and training sessions on a monthly basis. This group has been a game changer for me. My first full time year in business was such a bigger success than I could have ever dreamed but with the Savvys Solos now around me, things are only going to continue getting better.