Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in photography but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ani Paoletti, a commercial and personal branding photographer based in Chicago, IL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I'm a multi-passionate photographer working with brands that sell products and services. My mission is to help brands test the limits of their boundaries through out-of-the-box photography and vision boarding for shoots. I love helping clients embrace their magic and find confidence in front of my lens!
I find a lot of my inspiration from science fiction and fantasy (all forms!), so I love creating unexpected effects that create a moody aesthetic or nail the unique vibe of a business or product. One of my favorite tools for producing unique imagery is shooting with my array of prisms and fractals!
Tell us about yourself
I grew up in a pretty creative household and was always encouraged to draw, paint, all that jazz as a kid. I started taking photos at age 12, and would switch between taking pictures and painting bright abstract triptychs. When I was in high school, I really didn't want to go to art school, even though it was blatantly obvious to me that I was a deeply creative person, so I ended up going to college for graphic design.
After I graduated, I moved to Colorado, where I worked for a small edibles brand as a designer. As the only person on the team with photography know how, I ended up being the in-house photographer. Thankfully, I had internship experience at commercial shoots and lots of years of behind the camera that the transition was easy as heck. I quickly grew our photography budget to encompass the proper equipment we needed to produce higher-quality photos for the growing brand and was appointed Photo Director.
As much as I freaking loved that job, I didn't love doing design the other half of my days and wanted to help more than one brand explore its visual potential. During the panini, I moved back to my home city of Chicago. I began working for myself, helping more brands and solopreneurs create unique and branded photos.
It's been an amazing journey, and knowing my clients trust me to be not only their photographer but their creative partner pushes me to grow more and test my own creativity.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
This year I had the opportunity to produce my biggest commercial lifestyle shoot ever. It took months of planning and prep, finding the perfect models, finding backup models, assisting in directing the shoot and finding wardrobe, location scouting, shot list creation, all of it. And then the shoot came around, and BOOM. It went off without a hitch, and the photos came out amazing! My client was very happy, and I'm excited to do another shoot like it in 2022.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Staying the course and true to yourself. I've had a lot of naysayers ask me when I'll get a real job or go back to having a job with benefits that sort of thing. Doing something like being an entrepreneur where you're creating your own path and building your own vision can be a confusing choice to people that don't understand it. I've just learned to listen to my gut, hold my own visions, and then aim for that.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Trust yourself and your intuition; if something doesn't feel right now, then sleep on it, or if it feels like a hell yes, then go for it!
- Network, network, network! And don't be afraid to ask for referrals!
- Invest in yourself because you're your safest asset! (My biz coach says that, and I love it.)
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
One thing that's really helped me is having a morning routine that doesn't rush me. I don't open my email or start work until 10 AM, and I let my clients know this. Having mornings to myself for working out, walking the dog, having a nourishing breakfast, and staying present for all of it, helps me to be more prepared for the day and be less distracted throughout.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.