My Entire Photography Journey: Claire Hunt

Claire Hunt

March 17, 2023

If you’ve ever wondered about my photography journey so that you can trust in my education or you just simply want to know how I got to where I am, then today’s episode is for you. In today’s podcast episode of All Angles Photography Podcast, we’re going back to the beginning. I’ll be sharing about when I started photography, what my hopes were for it in the beginning, the steps I took to grow my business, when I was able to quit my nursing career, how I had to rebuild after moving across the country, and even how I pivoted into education.

Keep reading the show notes or listen to the episode on your favorite streaming platform.

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I started photography back in 2016 with the sole purpose to photograph hikes and adventures. It quickly turned into this thing where people would ask for photos with their significant other, I did some family photos here and there, I photographed senior sessions, I photographed an in-hospital newborn session, and maternity – I really did it all. If I’m remembering right, I think I charged around $100-$150 per session. I truly saw this as a hobby for a while and I loved it! After dipping my toes in quite a bit, I realized I loved photographing couples more than anything and after graduating from nursing school, I decided I wanted to have more fun with weddings and

couple shoots.

I went to a styled shoot in Nashville and I met a photographer there who took me under her wing and had me second shoot for her many times starting in 2018. I didn’t know if I’d even like weddings and to be completely honest with you guys – I did love them, but I thought I’d always just second shoot. I never had this plan to really pursue my photography business on my own. I saw it as a hobby that would bring in some income on the side, it was a creative outlet for me, and I thought maybe in the future I’d pursue it.

Before my husband and I got married, I remember having this conversation with him prior about how I wanted to pursue photography, that way by the time we had kids like 4-5 years from that point, it would be a solid business that allowed me to mostly be home and trade some of my weekends for time shooting weddings. So, just to recap from 2018-2020, I had only been second shooting a handful of times and I decided in 2020 it was time to make this a business. I invested in my gear, education, and more.

Whenever I tell you guys I invested probably over $10K prior to ever having a photography booking of my own, I mean it. I knew that I had to invest in order to grow because I couldn’t do it on my own. I knew next to nothing about running a business or even the wedding industry. I found so much of the education I had invested in was a bunch of mindset motivational fluff, but I had to put together bits and pieces from everyone. This enabled me to figure out how to do it on my own in a way where it made sense. Because truly, so much of the industry education is very vague and you don’t actually receive clear steps forward. So what did I do?

I knew I had to build my portfolio with styled shoots and more second shooting to gain experience and find my consistent style so that I could attract what I wanted to book. I was learning how to market myself and stand out from the crowd of other photographers. I was building my Instagram, being consistent, and showing up in a personal way on my stories – truly since day 1. I started building a legit website, I started learning all about giving a great client experience, and more. I want to say, if you’re interested in learning how I built my business foundations from the ground up, I created a free workshop that you can check out in the show notes and description. I will tell you exactly what you need to do in order to grow your business and start booking your calendar.

Attract and Book Dream Couples Free Workshop

Back to the story! In that first few months, building this business was all I could think about. I would be at my nursing shifts and while I loved my actual job of caring for my pediatric trauma patients and families, I would feel so drained by the end of the day. The medical field isn’t easy and I knew I wanted things to change, but I never thought I’d actually be able to go full-time. I invested so much of myself in nursing school because you don’t just go to nursing school and then quit. But that’s exactly what happened.

I learned photography was no longer a hobby for me because after pouring my whole heart into this business for about 3 months (from April 2020 to July 2020), I was able to step back from my nursing career. I was making enough and more than I was as a nurse, so it made sense to give more of myself to photography, but I also knew I had it to fall back on in case being a full-time photographer didn’t pan out. I will say that was a blessing and a comfort, but at the end of the day, I didn’t need to fall back on it anymore.

After these 3 months, I was booking consistently and growing my Nashville wedding photography business. Then, by October 2020 (only 6 months after starting my career), Around this same time, Garrett and I had decided that we wanted to move to Colorado in 2021 but we had no official date, so I started shifting everything over into being a Colorado wedding and elopement photographer. This was a whole entire business change and I had no idea how it’d go. But also at this same time, I’d have other photographers dropping in my DMs asking me tips about photography and how I built my business so quickly and efficiently! I loved that my passion for educating would also be able to translate into this photography career and I started offering mentor sessions in October 2020.

This was during the same time as figuring out how to move to Colorado and establish expertise in a place where I didn’t live. I did know that SEO takes time and it was going to be incredibly important, so I started implementing that right away in October of 2020 when we knew we’d be moving. After getting some inquiries, they would book with other photographers, I quickly realized that they just couldn’t see themselves in my work. As much as they might have connected with me, they had no idea what their gallery would look because Colorado is so different than Tennessee. This is so important, friend because after going to a few styled shoots and also still displaying my Nashville wedding portfolio (so I had real weddings mixed with Colorado), I started to have some bookings, and things were looking up.

Fast forward to June of 2021, we moved to Colorado. I didn’t know if I’d potentially have to go back to nursing, especially because my husband was still looking for a job at the time in Colorado. But I had some second shooting gigs and styled shoots planned in July and after that point, things took off. I never had to consider going back to nursing.

Looking back on this past year and a half in Colorado, it’s truly mind-blowing acknowledging all of the growth I’ve had. I feel like I’m the type of person who is always growing and improving the next thing (sometimes to a fault), but I truly believe that my drive, effort, and consistency have all played such a huge role in how I got where I am today. I also have to thank God because I can plan out my steps, but if He isn’t behind it, it’s just simply not going to happen.

But the things I’m about to share with you are not for bragging rights, but it’s really just to inspire you of what’s possible for you. I hit 6 figures in my very first year of full-time photography. I have added one associate photographer and now I’m in the process of adding another. I have a team of people who support me and help run my business (a VA, marketing strategist, blogger, 2 business coaches, etc). I have this podcast to share free, value-packed education with you. I’ve built an education side to my business mentoring and coaching photographers so they can also grow in confidence, attract their dream couples, book them, and serve them so freaking well. I have templates in my shop that will empower other photographers to get organized and give an amazing client experience. I have hit multiple six figures now. My average wedding and elopement booking is around $7000. I get to work with the best couples all over the states – I’ve been to California, Washington, Oregon, Florida, Tennessee, Montana, and more. I’ll be going to Arizona, Tennessee, and New York this year.

I could keep going on and on, but I am truly so grateful for this photography and coaching business of mine because it’s allowed me to build my dream life. The things of this world will pass away and in the end, it doesn’t matter.

But I can make a lasting impact, be a light, encourage others, serve others, and also still live my dream life. My husband and I get to travel as much as we want to. We get to do a whole entire kitchen and master bath reno without blinking an eye because of what this business has built for us. I am just so thankful! That’s where I’m at today. I plan to be around for a LONG time.

I absolutely love growing my team. I love growing in general. I love being able to invest in myself. And I love to pour out myself and all of my knowledge to photographers so that you can grow and see the difference in your business and quality of life. I want photographers to see this same success. If you need someone who can root for you, encourage you, and light you up with inspiration, I hope you have someone like that in your life. If you don’t, I’d love to be that person for you and coach you in some kind of way.

Check out the resources below, and I hope this served you right where you’re at.

Resources Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Attract and Book Dream Couples Free Workshop

Book It Coaching Program


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