Sarah O’Connor

City: Melbourne

Business: Sarah O'CONNOR STUDIO

What: Fashion-forward portrait photography

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What was the catalyst for you launching your business?
I have a daughter named Cruze so wanted to create more of a work life balance for myself and family. I wanted to leave the 9-5 hustle and bustle and run my own business in photography, something I am passionate about and also have a Bachelor degree in. I love shooting people and creating art, these are two things I am really good at. I wanted to offer limited edition prints of my work along side a bespoke art portrait service. Something unique and different to mainstream photographic portraiture. Something you want to hang on your wall as art. 

What do you love most about what you do now?
Working for myself, bringing my ideas to life, learning new things, being creative and working at something I am passionate about. 

Describe the biggest setback you faced when establishing your business? How did it affect you and how did you push through?
Only working 3 days has been challenging in launching my business as we all know that launching a business takes up a lot of time. The challenging thing is realising when to let go of not achieving perfection and any expectations other people may have.

The biggest setback for me was being influenced by others and not truly following my heart. I was pushed in different directions and made decisions to please others without truly asking myself. I ended wasting money, time up going around in circles. I found myself trying to fit into a genre that wasn’t me or making me happy. 

I am now back on track and am working very hard to stay true to me. I think this brings a raw authenticity to your work and instantly makes you stand out from the crowd attracting the clients you actually want to work with and a brand that is your own.

The other thing I have learnt is not to under value myself because I am a creative and someone else might not see the value on that.

Everyone has days where they feel flat or uninspired - do you have any tricks or tactics for overcoming these feelings?
Yes, I make lists….If I feel overwhelmed, flat or uninspired I start with a list. That could be written or imagery. Lists to do , things to look at, blogs to visit, magazines to read and don’t forget the me time. I list everything wether its scheduled time to learn something new or business accounting to attend to. Lists help to prioritise, stay organised and get things done. Not to mention re-centre myself for a new day. You can only do so much and sometimes I might have that topic on the list for a month, sometimes just an hour but I always get to it and learn what to do first and last. I also record my ideas visually on Pinterest to keep me inspired and remind me of great ideas.

What has been your most effective marketing tactic or strategy?
Getting published work. With digital platforms and up and coming online magazines with followings of 30,000 and more viewers is a great way to get yourself out there. Staying true to an my own individual style and word of mouth. I have learnt to stay away from Facebook marketing. I think Facebook is important, but not for advertising, well not for me anyway.

What is the most courageous thing you've done in business?
Invest my last penny and learn it was the wrong decision. You don’t need a lot of money to start a business, just a lot of smart.

Words of Wisdom / Personal Quote

“Pay attention to the things you are naturally drawn to. They are often connected to your path, passion and purpose in life. Have the courage to follow them.”