We had the good fortune of connecting with Jamie English and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jamie, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
I love this question, mostly because I think it’s the wrong question. There is no giving up! There is only trying, learning, and making more informed choices, even if those choices mean adapting. When I first started my business I had so much to learn. There were challenging times, but I was so happy to be working for myself and doing what I loved that even those challenges were exciting and interesting to me. I could see my progress both in my skills as a photographer and in my skills as business person. It felt easy to put in the long hours and weeks and work all the weekends because I was young, unmarried, and enjoying it. It honestly didn’t feel like work! Then my life changed and so did what I wanted for it. I had “succeeded” with 30+ weddings a year, but I realized it wasn’t the kind of success I wanted anymore. I was married and living in my favorite city with family nearby, but I barely spent time with anyone outside of work. I wanted quality time with my husband and community, some weekends at home to rest and recharge, more time to devote my best to each of my couples, and the ability to travel just for the sake of vacation without tying it into a work trip. So I decided to step back a little and take on fewer clients. My following years saw 20 weddings, then 15. I felt so much happiness making less but able to have a more balanced lifestyle. Today my life has changed again. I have a baby girl at home and am experiencing the joy of her and watching her grow so quickly. This has given me a new passion for documenting other families. The time we have with each other is precious and deserves remembering and celebrating! 5 years ago I never had any time for families, so it’s definitely a shift in my business! When I think of the 6 years I’ve had my business I believe that every year has been successful in its own way, whether in growth or in change. Even one day when I finally decide to close my photography business completely, it won’t be giving up. It will be a decision I make because it is the right one to make for the season of life I am in. I hope anyone reading this realizes they haven’t failed or given up if they decide to rework their career plans. Life is constantly changing and it is healthy to adapt as needed. So how do you know whether to keep going or to adapt? If your current business is no longer serving you in a healthy way, then start dreaming again and take steps to make your new dreams become reality!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I started my business and career with a passion for non-profit photography. Shooting for small non-profits at cost was a huge joy for many years, and I was able to work in so many wonderful places such as Costa Rica, Kenya, Uganada, Mexico, and South Africa! I also met my husband on one of these trips, which makes for a pretty fun story 🙂 Starting a business from a place of joy and passion helped make it an easier transition in the beginning. People wanted to support me because they could see my heart and they believed in me. There were definitely challenges, but they mostly came in small bits and pieces and I tackled them as they came (for example, learning the business side of photography, growing in my skills, learning to edit better and faster, etc.). I learned that the more I allow myself to be myself, the stronger my business will be. I didn’t have to be sellsy, I just needed to be kind and get to know people, and to do the work I had set out to do.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m currently in two cities, really! The city I’ve spent the majority of my adult life in and where I started my business is San Diego. If you’re visiting you should definitely visit the zoo, take a walk around Balboa Park, drive Sunset Cliffs, and eat Mexican food! I personally love Salud in Barrio Logan – you must try their churro sundae if you’re a dessert person. I’ve been living in Sacramento the last year and a half. There’s still a lot I haven’t experienced here but I do know it’s a lot of fun to walk along or swim in the American River, stroll around Midtown for Victorian home vibes and good food, drive into the foothills nearby or up into Lake Tahoe for a hike, or head out to the coast for foggy cliffsides, wine, and seafood (we especially love Mendocino!).
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My business wouldn’t be where it is if it weren’t for my husband, Ryan. He has stood by me in every decision I’ve made, whether to grow or scale down or adapt my business. He has worked the majority of the years I’ve been in business as my second shooter and has always brought so much peace and joy to my couples on their wedding days! I also found such good company in the earlier years growing alongside Michelle Lillywhite and Paige Nelson, who are also incredible wedding photographers.
Jamie English Photography