Simone is a lifestyle & travel photographer based in Berlin. She took the risk and quit after almost 20 years her day job and stepped away from the corporate world and started a new career as a photographer. She has a unique gift to capture slow moments while she is traveling and has the ability that her imagery tells real stories. She launched last year her first book and worked with amazing people all over the world, since she switched her career. Read more about her thoughts being your own boss...
I know you switched career not long ago and worked many years in your day job before you made the move to make a living as a photographer. Can you tell me when you knew that you wanted to quit your job and pursue a creative career?
There was a certain feeling, like my mind was looking for something else not even quite knowing where this was going. Over time that feeling got so much stronger and it almost felt like I could not keep the lid on “it”, whatever “it” meant back then, for much longer. At the same time my day job as a Director of Leadership Development with an international company got much more challenging as I was increasingly missing the purpose of my jobs, adding to that came company politics. This is very common in many organizations, playing politics is not for me though, it feels like standing still and wasting resources.
As part of a reorganization I decided to quit my job. I had no intention to work in a similar environment, even though I had many good offers. I worked with a coach and decided to leave the corporate world behind me. I felt that starting my own business was the once in lifetime opportunity and that I would always regret it if I had not at least tried it.
What are the biggest accomplishments you made so far and what are your goals for 2018 ?
I officially started my own business in May 2016 and sometimes I feel that I have not accomplished enough in the time since, I don’t know why, but the self doubt is there from time to time. When I take a closer look though, I can say that I accomplished a lot; I have published a breakfast book with a pretty cool publishing house called Gestalten, I am the co-author for this book. It is pretty amazing to have had this opportunity so early in my career and the feedback so far has been phenomenal.
In 2018 I want to publish my own book, right now my literary agent and I are searching for a suitable publishing house. The other goal is to build an agency with my friend Anna, working together feels really good, we trust each other a lot and already managed to get our first client.
What relationship do you have towards social media and does your job as a photographer benefit from it?
When you say Social Media for me this is Instagram and yes for sure it has changed my life. Even without Instagram and meeting like minded creative souls all across the world, I’d likely still be doing what I am doing now. I’m sure so much of the positive feedback I was given through all the people that I met on social media helped me decide to take the leap.
What are two subjects you always hear when you attend or hold workshops or when chatting with fellow creatives about struggling to make a living as a creative?
First of all I hear that some women find it very hard to be working as a creatives all by themselves and that they wish they had a business partner with whom they can start a business, they feel that as a team it would be easier. The second topic of course is payment; it is getting increasingly hard to get well or adequate paid editorial work. It seems that magazines and brands want content for free in exchange for “exposure”. The rates that are sometimes offered are ridiculous and if you take taxes off then there is no money left to make a living. However, there are more people accessing the market and offering content for free, these are often people that still have a day job that makes them money, but would eventually like to work a photographer. Well, these people do not realize that they ruin business for so many photographers out there and eventually for themselves, too.
How do you establish a network or a community and how important is it in your opinion to have a creative community or network ?
I am very honest here, if you do not have a network and are an introvert, this will be hard! To have a network in my opinion is crucial to be successful as a creative. For all my life I have been a networker, bringing like minded people together, even now people tab into my network and ask for advice. And if you support others they very often support you too, so this is a win-win situation for everybody. I get invited to events and chat with people there, stay in touch and see what I can do for them.
What advice would you give someone who is considering a freelancing career ?
This is a tough one as every person is different. For me I can say that checking out all my options really helped me. Just before I filed an application to get state funding for my own business, I met several times with a business coach. He was not only helping me with the numbers but he was also asking the right questions. I also needed to write up a business case, which I hated doing at that time, but it helped me to gain some clarity on how to make a living from photography. So getting a business coach is a great idea, ask people who are working in the field that you are interested in for recommendations.
How important was the support of your husband while starting the new career?
Without the support of my husband I could have never done this! It is not only about the financial support, he has been there for me from day one, he is my rock and my biggest fan (his words not mine). So whenever I feel that anxiety, that uncertainty about the next assignment he tells me not to worry and to stay focused, this really helps me a lot and takes the pressure off.
How do you balance the low times in your job and how do you get your inspiration for new projects?
I see low times as an opportunity to take a break. As creatives there are often no weekends or holidays, sometimes if feels like working constantly. We all need to have a break from time to time, otherwise it will be tough to keep up the level of quality and maintain creative.
Once per week I try to plan a date with just myself, as I call it. I go to my favorite cinema to watch a movie or check out if here are any interesting exhibitions on. This feels so good and usually allows the creative juices to spark. I also get a lot of inspiration through my travel, meeting like minded people, being in a different environment, getting new perspectives.
If you find yourself ever in Berlin or consider to travel there and need inspiration for the slow moments, for the timeless candid hot spots or if want to stay in the loop what this amazing woman is up to, head to her IG account - fraeuleinsonntag or head to her portfolio page to get a feeling for a her beautiful aesthetic style.