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Meet Carla Lutz, of Carla Lutz Photography. Carla and I met years ago at work. We instantly realized we had many things in common, one being our love for all things creative. I’ve witnessed Carla work a full-time job while pursuing her passion business simultaneously. Carla has since transitioned into working full-time for herself, as owner/ lead photographer of Carla Lutz Photography. I am very proud of Carla. Her drive, tenacity, and passion, to create and capture memorable and unique moments are inspiring!
Carla and I recently sat down to discuss topics ranging from advice for aspiring photographers to the most rewarding element of her job. Enjoy the read! And don’t forget, to do that thing you’ve been wanting to do!
1. When did you become interested in photography?
I actually started working in a photography lab in 1999 developing film for wedding photographers, but I always thought a “career” meant working 9-5 in a big corporate environment. So, when my husband and I started our family, I went to work for a law firm in DC. After several years, I had everything I could want in life and a job that paid the bills, but I found myself missing a piece of my own identity. As I was cuddling with our kids, I realized there were all of these fleeting memories that I wanted to remember and photography was the way I could preserve those memories for us and other families. As crazy as it sounds, it felt like it was my calling.
So, I juggled working my 9-5 job with a 2 hour commute, and came home and worked my “side hustle” after the kids went to bed. Sometimes staying up until it was time to wake up and do it all over again. After a few years, photography became much more than a hobby or side hustle, and I left the corporate world to pursue my passion of photography and running my own business full time.
2. What inspires you?
Creating new memories with my own family and friends and experiencing life and travel definitely fuels my creativity as a photographer. When I meet a new client and hear about their own love stories or life’s triumphs, it gives me a glimpse into their hearts and what they will cherish most looking back at their photographs.
3. How do you prepare for a photography session?
Before I started this journey of being a full time photographer, even I couldn’t grasp how much work went into even a one-hour photography session. From the emails, phone calls, questionnaires, contracts, cleaning and calibrating equipment, scouting new locations unique to the client’s personality, helping them pick out the perfect wardrobe, down to monitoring the weather forecast! There’s a lot to do before the photo session.
4. Who’s your favorite photographer and why?
Jasmine Star is definitely one of my favorite photographers and entrepreneurs to follow. She has this rags to riches story of her family upbringing, and I can really relate to how she found herself dropping out of law school to become a wedding photographer. It was when listening to her online classes and chats that I realized no matter how many photography businesses are out there, the difference in my business and theirs is my own heart and personality. This is an industry where being real and authentic goes a long way.
5. What techniques do you use to coach clients who are uncomfortable in front of the camera?
I completely understand that not everyone loves to have their photographs taken or feels as comfortable in front of the camera. My job is to make them feel like I’m an extension of their family and friends. During the session, we talk and joke like we’ve known each other for years, and I find that makes everyone feel more at ease and natural in their photographs.
6. What tools does an aspiring photographer need to get started?
At a very minimum, I think a digital SLR camera that shoots in RAW, a fast prime lens and a subscription to Lightroom are the best tools to have while learning how to shoot in manual mode. There are online tools like the classes on Creative Live that range from topics on photography to even business and marketing. Find a mentor or someone that will let you shadow them in exchange for you helping out with aspects of their business.
7. What advice would you give someone who wants to transition to photography full time?
That’s a great question! First and foremost, save enough money to get yourself through the “slow season”. Make sure that you have a great referral base to keep new business coming in. On the days that you start to doubt yourself, remember that everyone’s journey looks different than yours. Do not compare yourself or your work.
8. What is the most challenging aspect of being a photographer?
In the beginning, I was the business owner, office manager, administrative assistant, social media marketer, photographer, editor, blogger, album designer, IT tech, bookkeeper, etc…I wore all the hats and did it all. As I go through the business cycle each year, I really pay attention now to what aspects of the business I enjoy doing, am doing well or what areas need improvement. Then I consider what tasks I could outsource or if there are programs that can help streamline those processes. Every day I learn something new. It’s a challenge, but it’s also what I love about this business. My business survives and thrives based on the hardwork and heart I pour into it each day and night.
8. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Leaving the corporate world to start my own photography business was the craziest feeling ever. I remember that first morning waking up and thinking, “this is the life!”. My children get to witness what it’s like to make something out of nothing and do something that you absolutely love. I get to be a part of these amazing milestones in each of my client’s lives, become one of their biggest supporters and cheer them on long after their wedding day or photo session. In 50 years, when their children’s children are looking at their photographs, they might not remember that I was the photographer, but they will have this legacy and memory to cherish and look at. THAT is a pretty awesome feeling!
9. Where would you like to see your photography business in the next 5 years?
I want to continue photographing weddings and boudoir photography, but I also think that I have a lot to offer in way of mentoring and educating other creative entrepreneurs. I would love to speak at creative conferences and even teach on Creative Live.
10. My mantra…
If you want to succeed, you have to show up every single day, work hard and stay positive.
11. Contact info for people to get in contact with you.
My website is www.carlalutzphotography.com and email firstname.lastname@example.org
From Corporate to Creative!
Carla Lutz of Carla Lutz Photography
www.carlalutzphotography.com / email@example.com
Signed with LOVE…Monique