Troy: What are some of your goals for the upcoming year? Torrey: 2018 was my transition year. Last year, I focused on shooting as much as possible, in general. But now, in my fifth year in business, I find myself at a turning point in my career, and I am looking to avoid hitting a plateau. I want to shift my focus to shooting more high-end work by taking on as much wedding and portrait work as possible, to focus on working toward my vision for my business in 2019.
When you’re thinking about your work and your goals, who inspires you? My biggest people I turn to for inspiration are leaders in wedding photography: Elizabeth Messina, Ryan Ray, Jose Villa, and — last but not least — my fiancé who is also a photographer. We spend time going to museums together to find inspiration.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started your self-employed journey?
I wish someone had told me to jump in faster. I took too long to make certain decisions and was worried about judgments and the perceptions of others. It’s good to see yourself progress, so I wish I wasn’t as hesitant and did things quicker in the beginning.
Based on your experience, what advice do you give other photographers or folks looking to start their own business? When I started, everyone told me to jump in and don’t let any reservations hold you back. I think this is true, and it’s something I pass to others.
Jump in feet first. Go for it. If you don’t, you’ll never know. There’s no better time to put all of your effort and love into it and let your passion work itself out.
I was just listening to a podcast from another photographer who took a loan out and gave herself four or six months to pay it off. Do whatever you need to do to set yourself up and feel comfortable with the risk, then go for it.
I went from managing a retail store to returning to my passion for photography, which is the subject I studied in college. I’m so happy with how I’ve grown and so excited by my job that I have to remind myself to take a day off now.
Who do you lean on for support? My first layer of support comes from my dad. He has a masters in business, and I never studied it, so he’s my go-to. My fiancé is also building his own photography business, so I bounce ideas and questions off of him as well. If my family is biased, I go to a group of friends who can be trusted to give honest opinions.
What are some prosperity hacks that help you feel successful each day? I started using QuickBooks Self-Employed in January 2017. I watched my fiancé start using it before the end of 2016, and it made his end-of-year so much more organized. When he sat down to do his taxes for 2016, he was done faster and easier than me, so I knew this was going to be a big piece of my business moving forward.
Another hack for me was creating template emails that I can tweak with personal touches, depending on the scenario. Now, I don’t have to stress about emails. I use Google Calendar reminders for follow-up notes and really lean into the automation on the administrative side when I can.
What’s been the most surprising and challenging part of building your business? The most surprising part has definitely been the business and administrative part that comes with the creative, fun part. I’m surprised by how much I have to balance the two sides. As for the most challenging part, it’s tough to not work. Most of my friends think being self-employed is all about flexibility and having free time to do whatever. It’s actually really hard to turn off your job when you ARE the job. I find myself working all the time because I love it. Deciding when to take off, which is important for any job, especially in a creative field, has been tough. But now that it’s been four years, I’ve gotten into a routine of taking days off each week and going on vacation like “normal” people.