Taking the Plunge to Full-time

Naveel wedding

A shot from Naveel + Keith’s beautiful Pakistani wedding.

For the past four years, I’ve juggled various full-time editorial positions while pursuing a photography career during my free time. While employment has provided a source of creativity, stability, and life-long friendships, nothing makes me happier than the sound of a shutter (dog GIFS are a close second).

The bride and groom on the dance floor at one of my favorite venues, the Magic Gardens.

The bride and groom on the dance floor at one of my favorite venues, the Magic Gardens.

However, finding the balance between a full-time job and being a professional photographer was wearing on me. Despite priding myself on my time management and organization, I was burned out from working non-stop on my business during my off-hours. Responding to email inquiries, revamping my branding and marketing materials, writing copy for my website redesign (thanks to my husband, Pete!), preparing documentation for taxes, processing photos, drafting blog posts, updating social media…the list goes on and on.

I had to learn to say no, by turning down sessions that would take away from my processing workflow. Friday weddings were off the table (unless I wanted to use vacation time) and the inquiries kept coming in.

In the back of my head, I always knew I’d pursue photography full-time “some day.” When clients asked why I didn’t do photography full-time, I’d answer by focusing on the risks involved, because quite honestly, I was scared. Still, I was left daydreaming of the day that I could work for myself. After long talks with Pete, I was encouraged to make the commitment to stop dreaming about the idea and put it into action.

It wasn’t as easy as that, though. Running your own business means looking closely at your pricing, but also sitting down and examining how much it costs you to live each year. (*Note to photographers: This is a helpful podcast if you are thinking of making the transition to full-time.) Mortgage, car insurance, business expenses, groceries, health insurance, etc. We (ahem, Pete) created a spreadsheet and worked out a detailed budget as a jumping-off point.

“Running your own business means looking closely at your pricing, but also sitting down and examining how much it costs you to live each year.”

After careful consideration, I handed in my two-weeks notice at my job at Generocity.org, where I’ve been working as Content Manager for over year. I love working in the city, focusing on highlighting the good things being done by the community. Saying goodbye to that part of my life isn’t easy, but everyone has been supportive and understanding about my decision.

Still, it hasn’t quite hit me yet. I have two more weeks of waking up at 6:30am, riding the train an hour both ways, and working in an office alongside amazing people. But life is about to change drastically.

family photography

6-month-old Asher had me swooning at his cuteness last summer.

Soon, I’ll be throwing myself into networking, improving my business, building an audience, and meeting new clients. I’m excited for the personal growth that comes with having some flexibility. Going to the gym every morning, having time to make lunch instead of packing a frozen meal, and spending time with our dogs — including Betty White — who suffers from major separation anxiety.

A great deal of this transition is owed to those who have supported and encouraged me along the way, but especially Pete, who gave me the nudge I needed to make the leap. I’m really grateful to have a partner who supports me and is confident in my decision, since self-employment is no doubt a bit scary.

I’m also really lucky to have a network of local photographers who are always letting me pick their brain, and vice versa. Second shooting and forming relationships with local vendors has been invaluable for refining my style and my overall professional development.

I look forward to sharing more on the blog here, so brace yourself for more frequent posts.

If you’re interested in setting up a shoot, please reach out with any questions. Thanks for visiting!

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  1. Pete Schuster

    Congrats love, really proud of you. I know you’ll kick ass.

    This comment form needs some love though… my bad… I’ll update it tonight.


    • shannon

      Thanks for helping make this possible, Pete! I can’t wait.


  2. Allison

    Congratulations!!! I am so excited for you! Good luck with this. I think I am just as excited for Betty White as I am for you. 🙂


    • shannon

      Thanks Allison! It’s been rough with Betty White lately, so I’m really relieved I’ll be able to spend a lot more time with her.


  3. Danielle

    You’re never going to regret it. And I’m here to help you in any way I can <3


    • shannon

      You’re quite an inspiration, so thank you for that! I can’t wait to hang out more. <3


  4. Cubby

    Reading this makes me so happy for you, even though I already knew about this. I’m just so happy you get to do what you love and have Pete beside you offering so much support! Here is to happiness and courage!


    • shannon

      Thanks love! It’s crazy stuff, but I am so excited and grateful for support from friends like you <3


  5. Becky

    This is SOOO exciting Shannon! I just emailed an October groom with your info, and then I saw this post. Woot!! Congrats


    • shannon

      Awesome, thank you Becky! I am so grateful for your support. Woot indeed 🙂


  6. Lydia

    Congrats! You will do great! I need to set up a date in July for the baby pictures. I wanna get pictures taken when he is teeny tiny


  7. Whitney

    Congratulations, Shannon! I was just planning on writing you another email and I’m so glad I saw this first. Hopefully I can snatch up a date of yours for Islas bday shoot!


  8. Mommy Dearest

    Congratulations on making this huge decision. Proud of you for taking this chance now to make your future more rewarding for you personally and financially. You’re so lucky to have Pete by your side to encourage you that this is the right move at this time. Love you!


  9. Karl & Dawn


    I think you know how Dawn and I feel about you and your exponentially growing talent so in contrast to my lengthy messages and comments I’ll just sum this amazing big jump; all up with one word.



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