Featuring Catherine Taylor of Woodland Fields Photography
Wouldn’t it be great to have a little voice in your head? An all-knowing being that could change the direction of your life with a single question? What if a query posed at exactly the right time set in motion a chain of events that would forever change you? It sounds too good to be true, right? You’re not alone. Catherine Taylor’s husband was just as skeptical when she burst through their front door ten years ago and told him she was going to be a professional photographer.
“Don’t quit your day job,” he quipped.
That morning, his wife had left the house as a successful insurance marketing rep with a business degree, primed to advance in the corporate world. But something unexpected happened on Catherine’s drive home.
“I was listening to the radio and a voice came on and asked a question.” Catherine said she was immediately struck when she heard a woman ask, “If you were to take money off the table, what would your chosen career be?” She thought about it for a second and then while driving along the road, alone in her car, Catherine said, “I want to be a photographer.”
It was the first time she had considered her high school hobby as a viable career path. It was 2009 and most people were still reeling from the recession and the mess on Wall Street. It had taken her a couple of colleges and changing her major 9 times, but Catherine had a successful career, putting her business degree to good use in insurance sales. It was the kind of job and salary you didn’t just walk away from.
So when her husband told her not to quit her day job, Catherine agreed. But as time went on and she started to establish Woodland Fields Photography, the notion of loving her job and not being broke started to seem possible, and more importantly, preferable. “I was being micromanaged and I wasn’t fulfilled by what I was doing so I decided to take the plunge and quit my day job.”
Now, more than 10 years later, Catherine is running her own successful photography business, bringing in a salary that supports her family and she credits that voice on the radio for shaking up her life.
Her husband couldn’t be happier about being wrong. “He’s proud of what I’ve accomplished. He loves to recount the story about his initial reaction because it gives him great pride to tell people he had to eat his words.” Catherine was able to make Woodland Fields Photography profitable almost immediately, thanks to her background in sales. “I’m grateful that I didn’t end up with a photography degree because I think having a business degree serves me much better.”
Approaching Photography with a Corporate Mindset
Catherine’s education and early work in risk management set the tone for her to approach her photography business with a corporate mindset. And that meant outsourcing. When she was working in the insurance world, Catherine had an assistant to take some of the admin tasks off of her plate. But, being the young, go-getter she was, she continued to try to do it all, until her supervisor explained something that would stick with her and help her in her own business years later. “He sat me down and said, ‘Catherine, we are paying you to make us money, and you’re wasting your time doing things your assistant can do. Don’t do anything below your pay grade.’”
It was a concept that resonated with the then insurance marketing rep, but it took one more person to help Catherine draw the connection and start implementing it in her budding photography business. “I went to WPPI for the first time and ended up going with a friend to see Jasmine Star, whose entire seminar was on outsourcing.”
Catherine says when she walked into the convention she thought she couldn’t afford to outsource. After hearing Jasmine talk about being able to focus more on shooting, and remembering what her former boss told her about the value of her time, she walked away knowing she couldn’t afford not to start outsourcing.
[Side Question: Can you afford not to outsource?
The first thing to give away? “I tried album design outsourcing first because it didn’t require a subscription and I could use it when I needed it.” Now Catherine does her own album design thanks to new and improved software, but one thing she will never go back to doing on her own is editing. “Back then I had to pay per wedding and put all the images on a hard drive and mail it off and even with all of that extra work it was still saving me time.”
Catherine uses ShootDotEdit now and enjoys focusing on doing things that make her happy and got her into the photography business in the first place. She says that’s certainly not sitting in front of a computer editing thousands of images.
Strong Voices Can Shape a Career | Woodland Fields Photography
Strong voices have helped shape Catherine’s career from the beginning. First, her former boss sitting Catherine down and explaining her worth and value to the company. Then, veteran photographer Jasmine Star highlighting the importance of handing off things to create more space for success and happiness in your life and business.
But the voice that had the biggest impact on the Woodland Fields Photography owner still remains unknown. Just like an anonymous quote shared on social media where the author is far less important than the message, the unidentified voice that came through Catherine’s radio over a decade ago asked the right question, at the right time.
To check out more of Catherine’s amazing work with Woodland Fields Photography, head on over to her website or check her out on Instagram @woodlandfields! You never know what will inspire you to make a change.
Written by Sabrina Sabbagh