How to Start Your Photography Biz Before You’re “Ready”

Photography

Nicole Hill

by

Life is short. It’s really, really short. And it’s incredibly unpredictable. And unpromised.

Is it beautiful? Hell, yes it is.

But is it also devastating and terrifying and borderline unbearable sometimes? Hell, yes it is.

So, why on earth would we avoid doing the things that fill us up? Why would we keep waiting for the so-called “right” moments? Why would we keep putting off anything that would make this short, short life more of what we love?

Here’s the thing: I have photographers slide into my DMs and students email me allllll the time saying that they want to start their photography businesses, but they’re just not ready yet. They need a website. Or a fancier camera. Or more clients. Or to get the guts. 

Well, to that I say, if you wait until you’re “ready” to do anything, you’ll never do it. It’s that simple.

And life is way, way too short for that.

How I started my photography business before I was ready

I was not ready to start my photography business when I started it — like, not even close. Not only was I broke, I didn’t even have a camera — and, what the heck seems more important to starting a photography business than having a camera?! But, I just didn’t have one (and I most definitely wasn’t in a place where I could buy one). I’d been borrowing one of my friend’s cameras, and I knew that there was simply no way I could afford my own at the moment… especially when I could barely scrape up my rent most months.

But, I had found photography, and something about it felt really, really different to me. Once I figured out how I was with a camera and how at home I felt with one in my hands, something buried deep lit up in me — passion. Excitement. Worthiness. Joy. I know it sounds a little woo-woo, but it was just… instant. Everything finally, finally made sense. Camera or not.

I couldn’t let the fact that I didn’t have a camera (and certainly not any fancy lenses) stop me. I just knew what I needed to do.

It just mattered to me that, for once, I did something for myself. I knew that if I wanted to wait until I was “ready” (AKA, could afford my own camera), it would take years — years I’d never get back. So, I did it. I went to photography school, (yay student loans) I saved literally every dime I earned, and I rented cameras for 3 years before I ever bought my own.

And, I want to repeat that, okay? I rented cameras for 3 years before I ever, ever had one that I could call my own! I did not let the fact that I was renting cameras hold me back (and, in hindsight, I genuinely think that renting different cameras made me a better photographer in itself).

Was it hard? I mean, yeah! It was. But do I regret it? Not. A. Second. Of It.

It was like I just knew that it was the right thing to do — and that goes for you, too. Plus, at the same time, I simply didn’t have any other options. And, over the years, I’ve had so many students and photographers tell me that they just need to wait until they get a nice camera to start… but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I’m living proof of that.

But, I can promise you, I’m not an outlier, either. Two of my wonderful, beautiful TPP students, Cassie and Aleisa, did the same thing. Hell, they weren’t ready… but they started anyways, and they’ve seen AMAZING success taking the leap anyways. Here’s what they both have to say:

Cassie Wegeng

“I bought my camera not long before the course started as an excuse to get outside and try to find joy during the beginning of the 2020 craziness. I had absolutely no idea how to use it – just threw it into auto and happily snapped photos of all the beauty around us here in Florida. I literally didn’t know cameras had a manual mode, let alone what ISO and aperture meant. I KNOW. 

My biggest “fear”…was was something I’m this excited about without really having much experience worth the investment in myself? Looking back it feels silly that I went back and forth for as long as I did. Getting outside and shooting brought me so much joy and I knew I had found something special, so that feeling and just trusting my gut is what got me to finally bite the bullet. Long story less long, I paid for the cost of the course and my equipment within a few months of finishing TPP. It’s been more than worth it I’d say!! 

As of September 1st this year, I’m a….wait for it….full time photographer!

WHAT? I started TPP in October 2020, launched my website in late November, and 10 months later quit my 9-5 to pursue photography full time. There were a few recent months that I made more doing my very part-time photography side hustle than my full time job – that was when it got real that I could absolutely do this. Business is going great, I’m booking into 2022 which is insane, and I just feel so incredibly grateful and excited for the future. I (along with most people, I’m sure) have always had to shape my life to fit around my job. Having the flexibility and freedom to live in sync with my profession and find joy in “work” again is the best freaking feeling in the world. I’m forever grateful to The Photographer’s Path – and the best girlfriends that come out of this community – for helping me get there.”

Aleisa Sigmon

In March of 2020 I purchased my first “big girl camera” right before the start of the pandemic. You know the one that wasn’t bright pink and you could throw around your wrist or stuff in your clutch? I had a lot of time on my hands and wasn’t being productive with it. I needed a new hobby. Something that could fulfill me. I thought photography would be a great outlet for me as I always loved taking pictures and it brought out the creative side in me. 

Being so new with photography and having no idea how to work this new “big girl camera”, I indulged myself in YouTube and joined Facebook groups, doing whatever I could to learn about my camera and photography. I came across the Horizon Found Facebook and one day Nicole commented that she had some free time and would answer any questions we might have. I asked a question or two and instead of Nicole just replying, she commented back with a personal video answering all my questions. I was blown away and knew this girl was passionate about photography and helping others. When she announced she was doing a LIVE training (Yes, LIVE! Like she was actually there in person doing the training, not pre-recorded, answering all of our questions along the way kinda LIVE!), I hopped on the call. At the end of it, TPP was born! That was probably when my biggest fear set in. Making the investment in myself. I have a fear of failing and making a big investment for myself was scary to me. “What if I’m not good enough? What if I don’t have what it takes? I don’t know if I’ll ever be THAT good.” I had a gut feeling to pursue the course and after a glass of wine (or two) and a pep talk from my husband, I pulled the trigger and signed up for The Photographers Path. It is by far the best investment I have made for myself and now my FREAKING BUSINESS!!! 

One year ago this month (September), I signed up for TPP. Since then I’ve made Aleisa Sigmon Photography a legit business.

I’ve had over 85 sessions, paid for all of my photography equipment, education and more.

I specialize in Motherhood Photography, documenting special moments for my mommas, their babies and family. I never thought in a million years I would become a “photographer”! It’s still weird to even say, ha!”

Overall, I’m super thankful that I made this investment in myself and joined this amazing community. Heck, the community in TPP is worth the investment in itself! I don’t know how Nicole did it, but good vibes attract good vibes and all of the girls in our community are AMAZING! I actually live super close to one of the girls, who has now become my “photography bestie”! Hi Cassie! The Photographer’s Path is our sisterhood and for that, I’m thankful!”

How you can start before you think you’re ready, too

Even though I started before I was ready, I can promise you that I was still scared out of my mind in a lot of ways. I know Cassie and Aleisa were, too. It’s a big deal to step outside of your comfort zone, you know? It’s a big deal to bet on yourself. To try out the scary side of the pool. But I think that the whole not feeling “ready” thing *does* come rooted in fear. It’s fear trying to keep us safe and comfortable, and it’s really a built-in trauma response. But, the thing is, the most beautiful things in life start outside of the safe and the comfortable. 

So, I want to challenge you to take action on your dreams this week, okay? I want to challenge you to start exploring why you think you’re not “ready” and how you can do it anyways. Here are a few ideas:

  • Figure out what the main thing holding you back is, and write it down: Is it money? Is it fear? Is it someone’s opinion?
  • Define one really simple, easy thing you can do today, no matter how small it is… and do it. Maybe it’s buying a website domain, maybe it’s posting about your business on Instagram, maybe it’s asking a past client for a testimonial — just something!
  • Map out your next 30 days in a calendar, and write down one task you can do every 3 days (10 in total) that will get you to where you want to go.
  • Post your work on Instagram, tell people about your business, and ask people to share it, too.
  • Try out a fun new shoot idea on some friends or family, and then share it.

I can just promise you — all of this is really just so much more simple that we tend to make it, okay? You matter, your photography matters, and your dreams matter. The world needs what you have to offer, and refusing to try things out before you’re “ready” hurts everyone… but mostly, just you. 

Take a chance on yourself, okay? You owe it to yourself to do the things that make life seem sweeter, because life is, genuinely, not long enough to avoid it. After all, what’s life without dream chasing and fear facing? It’s boring. It’s not as full as it could be. Don’t do that to yourself. 


If you’re looking for an in-depth blueprint on starting a photography business, The Photographer’s Path is truly meant just for you. Sign up for the waitlist here, we open the doors on October 6th and keep your eyes open for the free live training we have coming soon too! And, most of all remember to: please, please don’t let what’s meant for you pass you by.

ARE YOU READY?

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meet the photographer

HI! I'M NICOLE HILL

I've spent the last decade of my life traveling the world as a fashion photographer and I created Horizon Found to give you everything I wish I had when I was starting my career. Here you'll find community, inspiration, and education - to help guide you down the path towards building the photography business of your dreams. My dream is to use this platform to help build a supportive environment in the photography industry.

I'M HERE FOR YOU!

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The Photographer's Path is currently closed. Get on the waitlist to get early access and special bonuses not offered anywhere else!