LOVE MONDAY: Featuring Karen Evans
At Painted Turtle Partners, we believe that every individual should be able to fully utilize their interests, skills and experience in a work setting that they will enjoy. In our weekly post, “Love Monday”, we will be highlighting individuals that have made a major career change and now love what they do. This week, you will gain insight from Karen Evans who went from being a Legal Secretary to Photographer and Owner of Karen Evans Pictures. Learn what career changes she made and how she got there.
What was your past career(s) and what are you doing now?
I always worked in an office setting, first with the local newspaper and then followed by offices in various aspects of the law. I have been a full-time photographer since 2007 (having started my business in 2003).
Was there a point when you just knew that you wanted and needed to go for this new opportunity? Can you describe that moment? What pushed you to move forward?
Once I realized that photography was an avenue I wanted to pursue, and once that became a desire to start my own business, I knew that I wanted to be my own boss. I worked diligently at my day job while taking as many photography jobs as I could fit into what was left of my time, eventually saving a year’s salary so I could finally quit the day job. The actual catalyst, however, was attending a workshop where the very esteemed presenters were teaching about how they ran their businesses to success and realizing that I was doing the exact same things! After returning from the workshop, I mulled over the idea for a few days, and then turned in my resignation.
What helped to prepare you for this career change?
Working as a legal secretary in a law firm and being given a lot of responsibility with client communications and having the opportunity to read through many many contracts over the years helped me, if nothing else, just by osmosis. I was also a voracious participant in what was then a new phenomenon – the online forum. There was one in particular devoted to the craft and business of photography, and I read and participated in it religiously. Being a professional photographer is a lot more than making pictures people want to buy; the business and marketing aspects of it consume a much larger portion of my time, so having those resources was invaluable in helping me make the leap from employee to business owner.
What have been the biggest struggles and/or hurdles that you have encountered with this change? What are you doing to overcome them?
As with any business where you have to sell yourself or something you create, there is a lot of rejection. Not everyone who inquires will hire, and learning to not take that personally was always a struggle. Also, as my style has evolved and my photography voice has strengthened, I’m much more confident in knowing and accepting that not everyone is the right fit.
If you were to offer one piece of advice to individuals that are contemplating making a major career change, what would it be?
Save your money, do your research, and then just do it. I have seen many people struggle with wanting to do something but instead end up spending a big chunk of their lives doing only that – wanting, not doing. At some point, it’s best just to do it because then you’ll be forced to make it work. Unlike if you stay in your current job and do your passion on the side; you’ll always have that safety net but you’ll never know what it’s like to make it on your own. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when the rubber meets the road.
For a running stream of Karen’s current work, updated frequently, you may visit her blog or for a more permanent presentation of her work, visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook and LinkedIn.