Since before I can remember, photography has always offered me a sense of whimsy and wonder that no other love of mine could. It’s been my escape, my comfort, and my means of expression, bringing new light and love into my life in times of both incredible happiness and complete despair. In my 24 years on this earth, I have learned a lot of things about myself through the viewfinder of my camera; I’ve found my true passion, captured images of my friends and family that I will continue to cherish long after they’re gone, and created a business that I am absolutely in love with.
We all face so many challenges in life, but as they say, with great challenges come great rewards! Owning my own little photo biz has been a whirlwind, but through the chaos, I’ve discovered that with some hard work and a little elbow grease, anything is possible! That’s why I wanted to share with you guys a little background on how I came to be the owner of Kaitlyn Ferris Photography, and how I keep myself on track.
Throughout high school, you could always find my camera in my hand , so when I had the opportunity to attend BOCES for photography, I jumped at the chance! After graduation, I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology with a focus in photography, which was truly an eyeopening experience – one that awarded me incredible opportunities in my work.
For the longest time, I had difficulty labeling myself as a professional photographer. I’d always say something like, “yeah, I’m an aspiring photographer!” or “I do photography!” Even though I had been doing commissioned jobs since high school, had captured my first wedding in 2011, and was continuing to not only book other jobs, but book more weddings, too – it just didn’t feel like I had earned the right to say I was a photographer. To be honest, I don’t think I had thought much about the long term after my dad passed away. Something about pinning my wings to a certain time and place felt strange and foreign to me, so instead of committing to anything, I floated in the ether and hoped that one day, I would figure out which direction to go.
Although I did have a fleeting thought that working as an intern for a photographer I admired would be perfect, I quickly realized (after a brief but pleasant meeting) that it wouldn’t be the right fit for me. So after two years, an extra semester, an associates degree, and no bachelor’s – I decided to take a crazy leap and leave school. Even though I absolutely loved the city, I was happy to trade skyscrapers and subway rides for farm fields and long drives with the windows down and the smell of wood burning stoves lingering in the air. Finding myself back on the North Fork felt right – exciting, even – and I knew I was where I needed to be.
I had crazy confidence in the word of mouth I had built in the past few years, and I knew that coming back home to where it all began was the right move for me. I was lucky enough to still be at the first job I ever had (a super cute luncheonette in my hometown called Star Confectionary!) to help me jump into running my own business. I started to realize that, in order for people to take me seriously, I needed to take myself seriously, too! I slowly started weeding out the things that weren’t serving me as a photographer so I could really start to focus on what I loved shooting. The saying “fake it until you make it” is literally what I ran my life around. I joked super hard about “being in the office” until I realized one day – no seriously, you ARE in the office, drowning in emails with thousands of files to edit! Things began to piece together until I looked around and saw the beautiful name I was building myself – brick by brick, piece by piece – entirely on my own.
As a whole, owning your own business is much more difficult than you think! I run my work schedule around my boyfriend Kevin’s because it gives my life the structure that I need. I spend a TON of hours on my computer answering emails, working on timelines with my couples, scheduling, booking, and ordering – and that doesn’t even cover the half of it! I’m always culling, editing, uploading, and backing up files to ensure I have a great system in place. But, I do love working from home, contrary to what it may seem. I love that I get to work in pajamas all day, have phone meetings from my bath tub (I may have done this once or twice, I promise it’s not a super common thing) and just overall allow myself to go at the pace that I choose. I love the organized chaos that my life is, and it allows me to pour myself into every bit of my work – from my styling, to my packaging, to my branding and the overall experience I give to my clients to help them see how much I truly value them.
Currently, I work from home, in a cute little office inside my bedroom that reflects exactly who I am as a photographer. I’m obsessed with my desk and my little space, but to be honest, I think I need more so I can spread out a bit! I have BIG dreams of one day having a barn in the backyard that I share with Kevin where the loft can be my office, or a bright room in our home that will fill up with afternoon sunlight and bathe me in inspiration. A girl can dream!
But what is it really like being my own boss and owning my own photography business?
Truly, I am super hard on myself. I give myself crazy deadlines and feel that I need to finish things before i’m allowed to do something else. For example, “you can’t have breakfast until you finish your emails!” or “If you finish this session by 12, you can be done for the day!” Working for myself means that it’s actually super hard to just unplug and turn off. As much as I’d like to think i’m done by 4 pm during the week, I’m really not. When emails come in, I’m quick to check them on my phone (sometimes too quickly). I’m learning that being my own boss means finding balance, learning patience, and, most importantly, figuring out what works best for me. This photo business of mine is my literal baby, and I am so damn grateful for it.
With that being said, it’s also super hard to let go of the very tight, almost deathly grip I have on it (it is, after all, something I built from the ground up!). This year, I’m really trying to focus on the reality that I can’t do it all on my own – and that’s okay! A few months ago, I tried my hand at a virtual assistant, which was an awesome learning experience (and she made me this absolutely beautiful site – thanks Alex!). Although I loved the help, I learned that sitting face-to-face with someone who understood my demographic, my surroundings, and my vision was something I was lacking!
More recently, an opportunity opened up to work with my current assistant, Ali, who has been helping my photography business immensely! She coordinates with me about my social media, helps me publish my blogs, and truly gives me a chance to breathe a little more easily knowing that I have someone else to care for that aspect of my photography business without me having to worry about it. I’m learning that asking for help allows me to better serve my clients and focus on what I really love to do – take stunning photos of people who are just as passionate about photography as I am, and enjoy myself while doing it.
So here’s to many more years of sitting indian style in pajamas at my desk, documenting an infinite amount of love stories, and coasting through this sweet journey of entrepreneurship!