I’ve shared many times - publicly and privately - about my struggles with body image. One of the ways this has affected my life is that I don’t like having my photo taken. And any time I do, I have to work very hard not to criticize the entire picture…
After Emma was born, I decided that I was going to be in the photos…whatever the photos were. I wanted her to have the memories of our lives, and I wanted to be there. It has been one of my greatest struggles. But, somewhere along the way, I realized that Emma would never be looking at those photos and criticizing how much weight I might have put on or if my clothes were out of fashion. She would only see her mom sharing her life. And that became my goal.
When I turned 40, my own mom got me a professional photo shoot with a local photographer and dear friend of mine. Before we had the shoot, I emailed her all the information - my struggle and story - how uncomfortable I am having my photo taken, and how I never feel like photos capture who I am - the essence of me. It was amazing. She spent so much time and care with me that day - being sure that she was capturing exactly who I am and who I want to project to the world.
When the photos came, I called a good friend and had her on the phone while I looked at them. I also took a minute to remind myself that I am beautiful and smart and capable and that people will see that when they see my photo attached to my business. As soon as I started looking at the photos, I started crying. I didn’t see all the things I wish were different about my physical appearance - instead, I saw someone who laughs, is confident, enjoys learning and drinking wine, and sees beauty in weathered simplicity and flowers (we did the shoot at one of my favorite old houses).
I saw who I feel like I am on the inside. In that moment, I became instantly in love with photographers and the work they do with women like me every day. Since that day, I have sought out and connected to a number of empowering photographers - who have incorporated into their mission the believe that humans deserve to know that they are worthy and that the world deserves to see them.
In fact, one of my project goals with Champagne Hippies is to curate some sort of photography exhibit that captures the beauty of Champagne Hippies everywhere - and helps the world see them and the work they are doing.
I personally believe that when a photographer is approaching their work from their values, the work is so much more gorgeous. When they truly believe that all people are worthy (and beautiful and capable and smart and…), you can see that in their photos - it really is like you are seeing what they see through their lens.
Only recently, I met another one of these photographers, Julie Ryan. She was on a panel that I attended and when she introduced herself, she started talking about how it is her mission to show people how worthy they are through the photos she takes. I was smitten!
And so, I invited her to be featured here as a Changemaker and to share her story and her values with you.
I’m so glad I did! Not only is her work stunning, but she is clearly a strong business person who is growing her business to her dream state by letting go of what she needs to let go of and focusing on what she loves. Since the day I started consulting, I have worked hard to encourage entrepreneurs and business owners to let go of what they don’t enjoy doing and to find the money to pay someone else to do it. This is truly my #1 tip for running a successful business - making more money and having more impact. And it makes my heart happy every time I find someone who is proving me right!
I hope that you enjoy getting to know Julie, and that if you are in NE Florida, you will consider her for your next photo shoot - I know I am!
My takeaway: Letting go of the things that aren’t your top skill will help you reach your goals faster.
Tell us about your business. What do you do? Who do you serve? How long have you been at it?
I am the owner of Julie Ryan Photography. We are a full-service portrait studio specializing in Headshots & Business Branding, Family, Maternity, Highschool Senior, and Beauty Portraiture. We focus on empowering women through photography, creating beautiful heirloom artwork, we help businesses and individuals leave a legacy through their imagery.
We do this by offering professional style & wardrobe consultations as well as professional hair and makeup artistry for each of our clients. By utilizing specialty skills developed over the last 15 years in gear, lighting, & posing we are able to make clients comfortable, removing all the stress from having a photograph taken so that they can be themselves and truly shine whether in studio or on location.
We also offer a full line of unique products to compliment any home decor and offer complimentary installation.
Why did you start your business?
Photography had been a hobby for over a decade when I decided to make it my career. About 5 years ago, I found myself in a job that I hated. But as the sole breadwinner for my family (at the time, my hubby was a full-time grad student), I felt I had to just push through.
It made me consider my long-time hobby of photography and I decided to see if it was something I could turn into a way to support us as well as provide a way out of my “day” job. As they say “the rest is history!”
I am completely in love with what I do and wouldn’t trade it for anything. I get to see people transformed as they see themselves through my lens. It’s an incredible gift!
What does "social good business" or "values based earning" mean to you?
For me, it means being the very best I can be for my clients, because they deserve nothing less! I work hard at staying up on my education and learning from the best in the world and am happy to bring the level of products and service that I would want as a client to our community.
I’ve also been able to partner with other businesses such as stylists & professional hair and makeup artists. I give them business and they provide expert service to my clients. I couldn’t do what I do without my team of experts!
What is your favorite part about running a social good business or your favorite experience since you started?
I think my favorite thing is when a woman comes in, maybe she’s a bit nervous (most people are) or hesitant about being in front of the camera, maybe she’s not feeling great in her own skin or she’s simply not feeling worthy…
She has a lovely time in hair and makeup, her confidence is beginning to grow and throughout the photoshoot she begins blossoming & rocking it. She sees herself when I give her a glimpse at the back of my camera and she exclaims “Wow, is that me?! I look amazing!”
Within the span of 2-3 hours, she is in a way transformed. Not that we’ve made her into someone else. We’ve merely shown her what’s already there. She leaves a confident, empowered woman ready to take over the world. Walking that journey with my clients never gets old!
What is your biggest struggle in running a social good business?
Keeping up! Ha! I’m always learning. How can I improve this experience for my clients? How can I be a better boss? A better business partner? How can I help other businesses?
At the end of the day, it’s not about me, it’s about those whom I have the great honor of serving.
What would you like most to accomplish in the next year? 5 years?
I feel like 2019 is going to be a great year! We are currently planning a new studio build-out (aka- my dream space) and it’s so exciting!
Over the next 5 years, I see us growing here in Jacksonville and expanding our reach to serve clients abroad!
Who are your business icons, heroines or mentors?
My mother has been a huge influence in my life & business (we lost her five years ago). She loved people so well and even though her absence has left a gaping hole, I can feel her presence and I know she’d be proud of what I’m doing.
I’m also very inspired by the local business owners I get to meet every day. We have such a plethora of talent right here in town!
What's your #1 tip for someone just getting started running a values-based business?
Start with your vision and make a plan. I have learned that I can’t do it all myself and that’s ok! Find a way to outsource the things you don’t enjoy doing or things you aren’t the best at.
What are your favorite conferences or retreats to attend?
The Portrait Masters Conference has been my favorite to attend thus far.
I also love learning about business and enjoy attending women’s retreats for inspiration.
What is the last book you read?
I just finished "Building A Story Brand" by Donald Miller.
What a great read! It’s really making me look at my business differently.