Sarah Petty: Despite having a college degree in photography, Syracuse photographer Kim Wolfe had horrible imposter syndrome.
Eventually, Kim gave up on her photography career and became a nurse only to discover after working years in healthcare that nursing wasn’t what she loved to do.
I’m talking to Kim about her journey from giving away digital files for very little money to making $4,400 with her first boutique clients.
So you actually have a degree in photography from college?
Kim Wolfe: I do.
I went to a really good college for photography.
So I know how to take photographs really well, but I didn’t know how to sell them.
Sarah Petty: Where did imposter syndrome come from since you were a trained photographer?
Was it on the business side?
Kim Wolfe: I saw other photographers in my area making money and selling digital files.
It felt like everybody had clients, and I couldn’t find anyone to photograph at any given time.
I photographed weddings for a short period of time and tried to get one-off family sessions, but I just didn’t know how to get clients.
I knew that I had the skills, but I didn’t have the clients to show it to.
I felt like I wasn’t a real photographer.
Sarah Petty: Maybe you felt that way because you had a degree in photography, but you didn’t have official business training.
Kim Wolfe: Exactly, I didn’t feel like I was professional because I wasn’t making any money from it.
Sarah Petty: So then you thought nursing would be a good career for you?
Kim Wolfe: I thought so because I made consistent money, but I didn’t have the passion to be a nurse.
It’s a wonderful career, but I couldn’t do it.
I just couldn’t give my all in that way and needed a freedom outlet.
Sarah Petty: Your degree was in photography, so that was your love and your passion.
Where did photography fit in your life and how did that feel?
Kim Wolfe: I always felt like it was more of a hobby than anything else.
I really wanted to go into photojournalism, but wasn’t sure how to have a family at the same time because of all the travel.
That’s just how I saw it, and I couldn’t get my mindset out of that.
I had to choose between photojournalism or photography.
Sarah Petty: Got it.
Where are you located?
What’s your family dynamic look like?
Kim Wolfe: I’m in Central New York.
I am married and I have two small children, a nine-month-old and a five-year-old.
Right before I did Boutique Breakthrough, I quit my nursing job and became a full-time stay-at-home mom, which has been great.
But I found that I didn’t have anything for me.
I was “just mom”.
I hate saying that, but that’s how I felt.
I was everything to everybody else, but I had nothing for myself.
I love photography, because it gives me so much joy, and it fulfills my soul every single day.
I love creating things.
Sarah Petty: How did you come across Boutique Breakthrough?
Kim Wolfe: I found you on Instagram and learned a lot from you there.
Then I saw that you were hosting a challenge for photographers and I signed up.
I took it and I felt like I needed to know more.
When you invited everybody to Boutique Breakthrough, I realized it was less expensive than my photography degree in college.
So, I knew I could do this and signed up.
Sarah Petty: Did you tell your husband or did you just decide?
Kim Wolfe: I was a little nervous, but I did tell him.
He is so supportive, especially when it comes to learning and investing in yourself.
If it was going to make me happy, he was all for it.
Sarah Petty: That’s so great.
Not everybody has a spouse with that outlook.
As you went through Boutique Breakthrough you figured out your pricing.
How did that go for you?
Kim Wolfe: I’ve never ever charged more than $200 for a portrait session, so it was a little scary.
Having that initial phone call and explaining my pricing to people was huge because no one was scared of my new pricing.
Sarah Petty: How did you find the time to work on your business while having kids?
Kim Wolfe: Honestly, my five-year-old is in school full-time right now, which is great.
My parents live nearby, so they’re able to watch my nine-month-old a couple of times a week for a few hours so I can get everything done.
My husband is super supportive as well.
Sometimes he’ll take a day off if I really need something.
Sarah Petty: When you come in the group to learn, you also are part of a community.
People don’t realize the power of the community.
How did the community help you?
Kim Wolfe: I’ve made so many friends, especially mom friends.
I have been able to speak with a few of the moms who are balancing little ones and their photography business.
I’ve gotten so many tips on how to balance my career and my children, and that has been so helpful.
Everyone’s been so supportive and understanding.
Sarah Petty: I love that, too.
I didn’t realize I needed that until I found my mentor in my own program and community.
It’s awesome because we get each other.
Being a mom is amazing, but I need “me” time.
Has your husband noticed a difference in how you show up?
Kim Wolfe: Definitely.
I’m able to fill up my cup so that I can give to my family better.
Previously, I wasn’t able to give them my all because I didn’t have enough left in me.
Now, I go into family time with more energy.
Sarah Petty: You can’t pour from an empty cup.
I love that.
Tell me about your first Julie ($1k or more client order).
Kim Wolfe: I did one of the activities in Boutique Breakthrough to get some clients because I didn’t have a client base.
I probably spoke to five people, and one said she wanted photographs of her daughters.
Since I don’t have a studio, I went to her house to photograph against a wall in her living room.
I photographed her daughters and they were adorable and she wanted the photographs to update their playroom.
I shared my ideas and later did an ordering session.
She ended up ordering $4,400 worth of product.
Sarah Petty: Isn’t that great?
How did you feel after that?
Kim Wolfe: I tried to keep my cool while I was there.
I didn’t jump out of my seat or anything, but the minute I got in my car, I cried.
I had big, fat tears of joy.
It was amazing.
I never thought I would ever feel successful.
Sarah Petty: I love that.
How do you feel about your future as a mom, as a wife, and as a business owner?
Kim Wolfe: I feel like everything is in place now, and I can expand in all of those areas.
I feel like there isn’t anything missing anymore.
This is what I have always been looking for.
Sarah Petty: I love it, Kim.
Thank you so much for sharing your imposter syndrome, because I think we assume that someone with a photography degree has all the confidence.
That didn’t magically happen.
You needed the system and the training.
Thanks for being here.