My Journey into Photography
Last week I did a sporadic IGTV all about how I started in photography and how I have built my business. In-case you missed my intro story, it goes something like this…
I left school at 16 years old, despite being intelligent, hard-working, well behaved and sometimes over achieving, something inside of me kept pulling me toward life experience and creativity instead of traditional education.
As agreed with my parents in exchange for my leaving school, I went to TAFE and studied to be a makeup artist and skin therapist - just as a side note, TAFE was also not my preferred learning method, but it was closer. After graduating I worked full-time as a make-up artist, part-time as a bartender, part-time as a retail assistant and part-time as a youth worker. Those 60 hours a week kept me busy for three years until I quit all of my jobs to spend three months traveling Europe and the US.
Traveling broke (or fixed) something in me. At the age of 21, most of my friends back home were starting to get married, settling into their full-time grad jobs and the pressure kind of hit me. Traveling was my escape but it ended up being my saviour. For the first time I was living and breathing with other young people from all over the world. None of them were thinking about marriage, our conversations were broad and inspired and they were just as confused, uncertain and hungry for crazy and creative life experiences as I was.
When I came home, I realised that I actually had the freedom to do whatever my heart wanted in life and in my work, whatever suited my spirit at the time. 21 was young, even though I had been made to believe it wasn’t.
I started working a few part time jobs and actually started a university degree (lasted four months - turned out even five years later the ‘school’ model wasn’t for me) while I entered into a self-discovery season of life. Through this time I started to gain a better understanding of how I learnt and adapted to different work and learning environments. When I was 23 I got a job working at a private school. My roles were graphic design, social media, photography and a bunch of other miscellaneous jobs that happened to find their way to me over the years. It’s probably worth mentioning that I knew absolutely nothing about any of my roles. I learnt how to use graphic design software, cameras and FB marketing all while on the job and that was ideal for me!
During this time I was also studying to be a health coach (shout out to all the other indecisive humans out there who worked several careers before finding ‘the one’) and started an IG account with recipes and tips for food preparation and meals. I bought my first ‘real’ camera because I wanted to take some really amazing photos of the food I was preparing and actually really loved shooting! I took my camera everywhere with me, just learning everything I could and found so much zen while I shot.
When we moved to Bali in 2018 I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. At the time I was doing content creation for fashion brands which involved Jared shooting me and I would do all of the editing. I liked creating content but didn’t particularly like being in-front of the camera. As I progressed I started doing some content creation for product brands and with that, started spending more time behind the camera and loved it. I found my happy place and where I felt creatively ‘at home’ and the rest is history!
So why share this story? Well, I think there are some lessons to be learned. Some mistakes and some straight up wins. Or maybe you have been waiting for a sign from the universe that it’s time to start something new and turn something you are passionate about into the reason why you get out of bed excited to start work each morning. Maybe this is your sign friend!
This November I will be teaching at Institute of Code - Social Media and Content Creation Retreat. This retreat is for aspiring content creators, photographers and social media managers. Basically, if you are ready to start your own career and be your own boss while creating all day long - this is for you! During this 10 day retreat students learn exclusively from four mentors;
Tina May - Founder of IOC and Marketing Genius
Emilio Kuzma-Floyd - Photographer and Educator (also the person who I have personally learnt a lot of my skills from)
Jessica Whitaker - World renowned Photographer and Educator
Keira Mason - Photographer and Content Creator
What will you learn during your time at IOC?
Branding & Finding Your Niche
Creating a Social Media Strategy
Content Strategy & Calendar
Search Engine Optimization
Photo Editing with Lightroom
Growing your traffic with Pinterest
Advanced strategies to grow your email list
How to establish yourself as a thought leader
Latest software and tools
How to find clients for freelance work or grow your business
Why do I personally think IOC is such a valuable course?
They empower you creatively as a student
As you can probably see, typical education isn’t really my thing. I very much learn hands on and ‘in the moment’. I love learning independently but never really found an environment that suited my learning style or my timeline. The thought of taking a long haul course was not an option for my short attention span and I hated the idea of a ‘one day a week’ course. When I want to learn something, I want to completely immerse myself in it, not just dabble. Plus, I wanted to start using my skills for work straight away! Waiting to finish a course for months or years before turning it into an income wasn’t an option for me.
That is why I love the hybrid model of IOC’s retreats. You gain everything you need to start creating an income immediately after finishing the 10 day course, plus lifetime access to materials and support from the IOC team. You will also find the environment incredibly inclusive and supportive. The mentor to student ratio is 1:4 so you will always have lots of one-on-one time and assistance with course content.
You are part of a supportive and encouraging community
I love learning independently but still find myself needing community, mentors and creative motivation and encouragement. It is so hard starting something on your own, not knowing anyone doing what you’re doing, not knowing the right way to do something and navigating a whole career change as a one woman business. It’s hard, lonely and discouraging at times. I learnt EVERYTHING the long way and even still have daily revelations, but my process would have been much less painful mistakes and had a much smoother ride into my business if I knew what I knew now, or had someone willing to teach and share their knowledge and business wisdom with me. The encouragement of my current supportive community (which took a long time to find and build) would have made such a difference in the beginning of my journey. The IOC founders Tina and Emilio felt the same when they started their businesses, so a huge part of IOC’s strength is their community. Not only do they provide a supportive retreat environment, they also provide an ongoing supportive community for all of their students. And I know this to be true because I have seen Tina spending endless hours on calls with ex-students helping them through their first client projects or giving them advice on opportunities. Plus a whole community of students ready to continue to encourage each other while you start your journey together! Something that I desperately needed when I started my business.
It’s completely unique
Usually classrooms are the most uninspiring places to learn and don’t promote healthy movement and positive wellbeing, however IOC have created what can only be described as a learning oasis! Your classroom and home for 10 days is a stunning villa in Canggu. The classroom environment is very relaxed and inspired by collaborative learning lead by your four mentors. Along with your education, included in the course is your accommodation, all meals prepared on sight (they are healthy, indulguldent and delicious!), daily yoga, lunch-break and end-of-class swims in the villa pool, and student excursions around Bali. An amazing positive learning environment!
If you would like to join me at the retreat this November, feel free to apply for one of five $1000 scholarships available through Build and Bloom or contact me to ask any questions! You can also contact IOC directly here.
I would love to end with this. It’s always easy to assume that we are too old, vulnerable, set in our ways, normal, unintelligent or scared to take a leap and drop everything to do something we really love. Starting over is kind of hectic! When Jared and I quit our jobs, sold everything and moved to Bali to start whole new careers (and we didn’t even know what those careers were yet) at the ages of 27 and 33 we were terrified haha. But please hear me when I tell you if you feel the pull, don’t ignore it! I don’t want to imagine how different our life would look if we didn’t take the risk of starting something new. I wake up every day excited to work, grow, invest and explore in my creative bubble and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
For more information on Institute of Codes retreats click HERE.