The Charlotte, NC photography studio is currently closed while we full-time RV. You can follow all the fun at TheDapperDrive.com!

Why I left Corporate America

I’m really excited to start my new photography blog off with a bang. I figured what better way to begin than to explain why I left Corporate America to go full time with brittany lauren photography! Sorry it’s a little lengthy. I promise my posts will be shorter going forward 🙂

starting a photography business

Growing up, I loved going through boxes of pictures my mom stored in the top of the closet and admiring the professional pictures we had on the walls. There were tons of pictures of our family as I grew up and I loved reminiscing about all of the trips, projects and goofy moments we’d shared over the years and forgotten about.  My mom always made sure the video was rolling or the camera was snapping pictures. Now I’ll always be able to look back at my birthdays, when my little brother was born, dance recitals and watch my infamous blue dress dance jumping on the bed as a toddler whenever I want.  I believe this is where my love and obsession for preserving such precious memories all started. When I got a little older, my parents bought me my first real camera.  I was 16 and didn’t know much about photography. All I cared about was that it looked cool, had a zoom lens and was all mine. I didn’t really know all the technical aspects of photography yet but I knew I loved capturing those fleeting moments, freezing them in time and being able to look back to remember exactly how I felt. It’s one of those things that no one can take away from you and so my passion and creativity for my own photography grew.

Throughout college I was known as the paparazzi among my friends, which still follows me to this day. I was always given the task of taking the pictures every where we went. No memory or moment too small to document was my theory and still is!  My major in college was Accounting and Finance which offered little creative outlets for me, so I decided I would take some photography classes to fill up my electives 🙂 I was immediately in love. I finally graduated with a Finance and Accounting degree and was offered a great job in the industry in Charlotte, NC. I was so excited to finally be making money and using my degree I had worked so hard for. It was quite a challenge putting myself through college — eating ramen noodles, skipping classes so I could pick up another waitressing shift to hopefully keep the lights on and pay the rent that month. It wasn’t easy and the thought of a great, steady paying job right out of college was so exciting and appealing that my true passion and interests took a bit of a back seat.

It didn’t take long for it to resurface. Six months into my new corporate job I started taking more photography classes at The Light Factory and continuing my education. The fire and passion was burning again!  I started realizing I could really build a great portfolio in my spare time and maybe, just maybe, one day I could have my own photography business. I knew exactly what I wanted my business to be. I wanted my clients to have lots of fun, create amazing art for their home and give them an experience that stood out. I met some awesome, aspiring photographers in my class and my teachers were incredibly motivating,  passionate and talented. I was getting to the point where I was starting to really believe I could do this and putting a plan in place to build a business. Then everything changed.

My boss pulled me into a conference room one morning and asked me if I would be interested in moving to NEW YORK CITY……….. I was completely confused and had to make sure it wasn’t April Fool’s Day. She was serious and I was excited!! Of course I’d love to move to NYC. It was never my big dream to live there but I was 23 at the time and saw the world as my oyster. So my little southern self packed up and moved to the Big Apple with a new, more demanding job and dreams as big as the sky. The excitement quickly faded because I was overwhelmed with a job that wasn’t a great fit for me and a passion and talent I was ignoring. I always made excuses for why I couldn’t leave my job to do something I loved.  The money was too good…I can never make money doing what I love…I need to pay off my student loans first…I need to save X amount of dollars first…NYC is so expensive… I mean the list went on and on and on.  The problem was I was truly forgetting what happiness was to me. For me, it was really enjoying my life, the people around me and living out what I was meant to do which was photography and helping others build that box of memories in the top of the closet and hanging gorgeous wall art all over their house.  Working from 8am – 5pm M-F sitting behind a desk was starting to take its toll. No amount of money would have kept me happy doing that day in and day out. Don’t get me wrong, I was so grateful for all of the things my job gave to me but the biggest thing I was missing was true happiness in my work.

I started making my business and photography education a priority. I took the time for photography classes, workshops and working with other photographers. I really started creating an experience for my clients that they would really love. I was booking more clients on the weekends and trying to build a business as a part time job. I didn’t mind “giving up” my weekends to my passion and love of photography. It felt more like fun than work. As I grew and developed, I started to figure out what I really liked to shoot and what I needed to improve on.  I took some time off of work to get all my new ideas organized and ready to go. I would recommend to anyone thinking of starting any kind of business to have a plan before taking the leap. The Sunday before I went back to work, I did a lot of reflecting and soul searching and I’m pretty sure a few tears were shed but come on, it was a big decision.

I knew I had the passion for not only my photography but for my clients. I was working very hard on perfecting my skill and the entire experience. I knew exactly what I wanted for my clients and I had started in the right direction so what was holding me back? What was the biggest reason I couldn’t follow my dreams like so many others had? I put my logic down for a second and remembered what my parents taught me growing up. They told me I could be anything I put my mind to and they really are right. Too often people let life get in the way of their dreams but I wanted my dreams to get in the way of my life! I wanted to live my dream so big and so loud it was contagious. Before I was so scared to chase my dreams whole heartedly but now I was becoming more scared of never trying. I knew I would have way more regrets staying in a job my heart wasn’t in than trying to create a business I truly believed in and loved.

Right then I knew I had to put in my two weeks notice. I tried not to think too much for fear of talking myself out of it. I had a serious talk with my boyfriend, called my mom, my dad and my best friend to tell them the plan (and to get a few pep talks and confirmation that I wasn’t crazy). I had to tell the people closest to me in order to make it real and own it. Now was the time and I had to make the move. After the initial shock and nervousness wore off, I became super excited and energized about my new, full-time venture. I couldn’t wait to dedicate ALL of my time to my clients, my vision and my dream. I was ready to create a photography experience like no other and step away from Corporate America. Although Corporate America wasn’t for me, I still learned a great deal from all of my coworkers, mentors and friends made from my 3 years in the industry. It really shaped my approach to my business and the level of professionalism I gained, I’ll carry with me always. It also afforded me the financial opportunities to build my business over time without taking on any small business debt and for that I am truly, truly grateful.

Now I am happier than I’ve ever been. I feel free to be creative and grow with my business and clients. My clients mean so much to me and before I felt I was doing them a huge injustice trying to handle brittany lauren photography part time. I found my place in the world and I can’t wait to share it with you. I hope anyone that reads this that is thinking about doing the same thing will first be logical and get a plan together, then let go and follow your dreams. You are your biggest obstacle. Once you get over that hump, embrace your passion and start utilizing all the resources around you, you’ll go far!

4 Comments

  1. Melissa on April 5, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    It’s perfect! You’ll do amazing things and I KNOW you will be a huge success in that tiny town called New York!



  2. Emily @ LaForce Be With You on April 6, 2012 at 1:17 am

    Brittany I am so excited for you! Your work is fantastic! It IS hard to make time for the creative interests when you are in Corporate America and I think that is great you are going to be able to do something you truly enjoy full time. Best Wishes!!



  3. Tracy in London on April 19, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Miss Brittany you inspire me! I loved reading this and seeing you make such a life altering decision. It is a risk worth taking and I applaud you for your courage. I felt the same way about my dream to live abroad. You have to put actions out there and have some faith! I look forward to sharing this journey with you!



  4. Jessica Sudusky on June 28, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Brittany…was having fun reading all your blog posts…and then clicked on this one and wanted to let you know how much it truly moved me! I am so proud and excited for your journey…and am awed by you being so wise at such a young age. To go for your dreams and not let worry get in the way is so inspirational. Thank you for writing and sharing this!!