Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in photography but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Julia Daniel, Founder of Julia Daniel Photography, located in Birmingham, AL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am the owner of Julia Daniel Photography. I am a family, wedding, and boudoir photographer. I serve clients in the area around Birmingham, AL, and Metro Atlanta, GA. I feel like I conduct my photography session differently than others due to two factors. First, I'm an engineer full-time at the world's largest marble mine. Every day I look a process and find ways to make them more efficient. Work smarter, not harder. I also ensure that the software that is used is working for us, not against us. I take this approach to my photography business. I have made sure that I have software in a place like CRMs (Customer Relationship Management) to make sure my clients have an easy process to book and the process leading up to their session is as easy as it can be. Secondly, I am neurodivergent. My spouse and kids are as well. This means my sessions are a bit different than others. I don't like sitting still, and talking and laughing is my comfort zone. This overflows into my sessions. This has to lead to sessions that people but especially kids that are neurodivergent, flourish in. They get to be themselves, and this leads to photos that everyone can't help but smile at. What does this look like specifically? Well, let's say a kid likes being outside, especially around water. They also LOVE dragons. I will plan a session at a creek or a lake where we can actually get in the water or throw rocks in the water. If I want to capture their face showing their genuine smile, we will start talking dragons, and I'll snap away as they tell me about their favorite dragon and where it lives and on and on. We will also play games throughout the session so they feel like we just played the whole time instead of being asked to" stand still and say cheese." I've discovered that most people stress about photos because they think photos are all about standing and smiling, but that doesn't have to be the case. I love nothing more than hearing at the end, "wow, that was fun!". That means I've done my job well.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Julia Daniel, and I own Julia Daniel Photography. I have been taking photos my whole life. I have photos of my barbies and stuffed animals I posed and photographed when I was five years old. I recently moved to Birmingham, Alabama, from Atlanta, Georgia. We love Birmingham! We moved to Birmingham for my new job opportunity as an Industrial Engineer at a marble mine. I am married to an amazing person who supports all my crazy ideas. I have two fun and crazy boys who always keep me laughing. We also have one dog, three cats, and a fish. Our ideal Saturday looks like sitting around in our pajamas, eating cinnamon rolls, and then shopping in the afternoon. I am a loud laugher and do so often. I laugh at the stupidest things! I consider myself a weirdo and am quite proud of it. Also, my hair changes often. Typically there is blue in there somewhere, though.
I love binge-watching TV shows! I'm usually watching crime dramas, think Law and Order SVU, or cooking shows like the cookie challenges on Food Network. If we were listening to my playlist, it would play Panic! at the Disco, then The Fray, and then move on to Ying Yang twins OR true crime podcasts. I'm a little all over the place, but I enjoy it that way.
I have photographed a little of everything. I absolutely love intimate weddings, boudoirs, and family sessions. Maternity and newborns hold a special place as well. Who doesn't love a sweet squishy baby? I love capturing pure, natural moments that go unnoticed by most. I have never met a child that doesn't open up to me, allowing me to capture their unique personality. A session with me produces photos that capture the purity of the setting, along with raw and joyous moments that happen during our time together. You will leave your session having laughed, played, and looking forward to your next session.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I feel my biggest accomplishment as a business owner is growing a client base in over two states and many cities in the last few years. We have moved a lot in the last five years, including to a new state. I have been able to keep my business running and gain amazing clients. Having clients all over is something I truly value!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
I think the hardest thing is self-doubt. Knowing you are the one responsible for all areas of your business is a lot of pressure. Having confidence in yourself and your product is key to keeping going when things get slow. Believing that your art and customer care is something that is something that truly is to be valued and, therefore, worth fighting for is definitely my biggest struggle.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Pay attention to the "boring stuff." Software's like CRMs, Point of Sales, and calendars are vital to providing your customers with a level of care that they will value. You are one person, and there are tons of resources available that will allow you to run your business in an efficient and professional manner.
- Value your time. No is a complete sentence. Making sure you take time off and care for yourself is one of the most important steps to having a successful business. It's like on an airplane; you have to put the mask on yourself before taking care of someone else.
- Only you can decide how to run your business. You can learn from others but don't learn to become them. There are plenty of people that want to teach you to be them, but you will burn out quickly trying to do that. You have to run your own business, which means it's going to look different than anyone else's, and that's a good thing!!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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