There are so many ways for teens to make extra money. A part time job, cleaning your grandmother’s house (like me), doing yard work for neighbors, are just a few examples. My friend, Mia, decided to take her love of photography and turn it into a way to earn extra money. She agreed to let me interview her so that we can all find out a little bit more about starting a business as a teenager, and her work is featured throughout.
Me: How long have you been interested in photography?
Mia: My interest in photography was first piqued about six years ago, when I inherited a digital point-and-shoot camera from my grandfather at the age of twelve. It was a cheap, 2.0 megapixel camera, but it was my first encounter with a digital (our family owned a film one), and I was enamored. I started by taking pictures of everything. Literally, everything – sunglasses, books, feet, perfume bottles – trying different angles and looking for a creative perspective.
Me: What kind of photography do you like the most – what kind of camera do you use?
Mia: I’m currently shooting with a Canon 60D. As far as my favorite subject? I think people are pretty rad. My favorite kind of photos are the ones in which the colors are deep and rich, the people are laughing, and nothing but genuine emotion and true personality is displayed. Honest photos, that don’t try to make the subject seem like something they’re not, but celebrate the beauty of who they are.
Me: What gave you the idea to go into business with your photography?
Mia: It came about rather organically. People started asking me to take photos of their kids, families, seniors, and do events like birthday parties. When I realized that there was somewhat of a demand for my photography, I decided that I needed to start charging.
Me: Why did you choose to do this instead of getting the ‘normal’ teen part time job?
Mia: There were several reasons. I saw a lot of value in learning how to work for myself. Yes, it’s often harder – it can require more personal responsibility and self-discipline – but I think that there’s a unique skill set to be gained that you often don’t get working for someone else. Besides this, I figure, why would I settle for an “okay” job making minimum wage, if I can make the same money (more, actually!) doing something that I’m passionate about? It just makes sense. (Or should I say, “cents.”)
Me: What have you learned regarding the business aspect of running your own business?
Mia: When I first started out, I tried to set reasonable prices for the different types of photo shoots I offer, but I eventually realized that I was spending more time and effort than I had anticipated, which resulted in very little profit for what I was charging. Calculating gas expense, time spent at the photo shoot, and time spent editing at home into my price has been a valuable lesson in learning how to run a financially profitable business.
Me: What upcoming projects to you have?
Mia: I have several senior photo shoots, a vow renewal ceremony, and a wedding coming up in February, all of which I’m super excited about!
Me: How are you working toward growing your business?
Mia: I just finished my website, and my next step will be to launch a Facebook page to spread the word about my business. My hope is that the more people find out about my photography, the more opportunities I’ll have to make money doing what I love!
Me: Anything else that you want to share with someone who is contemplating starting their own small business?
Mia: Starting your own small business takes a lot of work, especially when you’re just starting off. It’s worth every bit of effort, though, and it’s rewarding to see what you can do when you put your mind to it!
During the conversation that Mia and I had after the ‘interview’, she said something that inspired me. She mentioned that she has had a really difficult time putting her website together. It isn’t exactly what she envisions it to be – but it is what she is able to attain right now. She doesn’t have the money to pay someone to create some fabulous custom designed website. Rather than allowing that to paralyze her she has made a purposeful choice to make the site the best that it can be for now. I think that may be one of the bigger lessons that we have to learn from Mia. (I think you will agree her site looks pretty good, as is!) We can either plunge ahead and DO something with our dreams, or we can sit around doing nothing waiting until everything is exactly the way we want. Mia has chosen to actively pursue her dream and I definitely want to follow her example.
Mia is a high school student and budding entrepreneur. She started Mia Elizabeth Photography in 2012 and feels blessed to work doing what she loves. When she’s not taking pictures, you may find her having heartfelt conversations over coffee, making music at her piano, or chasing around her younger siblings and tickling them till they cry. To see more of her work or contact her, visit www.miaelizabethphotography.com. Be sure to follow her on Facebook as well!