Episode 79: How a Former Dance Studio Owner Created a Career as a Pet Photographer

Today my student Andrea Fleury, a Canadian pet photographer, is sharing her story of how she started her photography business before she felt like she was ready.

Andrea:

Last year, I was a stay at home mom and I was feeling a little burnt out and needed something to kind of spice things up to help find myself again.

Photography had been that for me my whole life, but I had just had a few failed attempts and I had convinced myself that it just wasn’t meant for this lifetime.

But, I decided to pick up a DSL again and I started shooting with it.

I quickly found a photographer mentor here in my city and she asked me what I wanted to take photos of. 

I had no idea.

I quickly discovered that I didn’t want to take photos of other people’s children.

I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning to leave my babies to go spend time with other people’s kids.

I realized that I wanted to take photos of pets and be a pet photographer.

My husband is a veterinarian, so pets are very special to us and in our family.

I really wanted to be able to treasure them and capture their memories just like we would our human babies.

I didn’t even know if pet photography was a thing, but knew that if it was I was going to need someone to teach me how to do it. 

Sarah Petty:

I am not a pet person so it was hard for me to be a pet photographer.

You are married to a veterinarian, so I know you are.

You’re a pet whisperer. 

Andrea:

It’s a different skill.

I was very excited to have learned the craft and it came naturally to me.

That’s when I started thinking about turning this into a business.

I found your podcast and I had heard about your course, Boutique Breakthrough.

When I inquired about it, I just missed the sign up.

I had a few months until the next one, so during those months I dug deep into the world of Sarah Petty and I tried to learn as much as I could from your podcast.

Once Boutique Breakthrough came up, I was all in.

I wanted to follow the path of someone who could lead me in the right direction, business wise.

I spent 12 years running my dance studio by the seat of my pants and didn’t have a business mentor, so I had no idea what I was doing. 

Sarah Petty:

What was the scariest thing about Boutique Breakthrough?

Andrea:

The scariest part was reaching out to people.

Just because we own a vet clinic, doesn’t mean I have clientele.

I didn’t have any clients.

So the biggest part that I got out of it was learning how to put myself out there.

Within two weeks I had my first Julie for $2000.

That’s what gave me the confidence to keep going with what you were teaching.

Sarah Petty:

So you went out, you got a client, you walked them through the process, photographed the pet, and you sold artwork.

Talk about that first big order. What opened up for you? 

Andrea:

With pet parents, they either believe that their pets deserve to be remembered up on a wall in big beautiful artwork or they’re questioning why you want them to spend money on a photo of their dog.

Your system helped me weed through and pick the right fit clients by asking the right questions.

When you’re working with a right fit client, everything changes.

I also learned how to lead them down the path during the presentation.

Both the husband and wife cried at the slideshow presentation that I gave them and I knew that we had hit an emotional trigger. 

Sarah Petty:

How did you feel about yourself after that?

I’m sure you were looking back to your younger self when you were doing your other business without any help wondering why you didn’t find someone to teach you faster.

I’m all about finding a way to get there faster.

Andrea:

More confident.

I honestly believe I will have a coach/mentor for the rest of my life.

I can’t imagine doing this without not just you, but the group of people that you’ve created because they’re very supportive.

They’re there if you need something.

You’re a lot more involved in it than I ever would’ve realized.

I very much appreciate that. 

Sarah Petty:

I think that’s what people are missing.

Whenever you have questions, we answer them.

If you’re stuck, we help you get unstuck.

If you ever had an excuse of why you shouldn’t do it, how did you justify it because it’s a big investment. 

Andrea:

I knew that I needed direction and if I didn’t get it, it never would’ve got off the ground.

I could tell that you don’t just teach things.

You have actionable steps, which for someone like me makes the biggest difference.

I knew I was going to make big strides in a small amount of time and that’s what I needed.

Not only did I get business things out of it, but you teach stuff that I apply to everyday life every single day.

The investment wasn’t even a question.

You’ve given me the confidence to go out there as a shy, introverted person, and helped me learn how to step out of that and meet people.

Sarah Petty:

That’s so cool that you’re learning the right way to get clients and planting those long term seeds.

Everybody’s looking for a quick, secret magic marketing activity.

It doesn’t exist.

It’s just good fundamental things that we run through the boutique filter.

What is the benefit of you having this business that generates money?

Do you have something specific that you want to pay for?

Andrea:

I just want to take the money that comes in from this and appreciate the fact that my art made that income.

We use it to do amazing, fun, enjoyable things.

I want to thrive with it because this passion is helping me thrive as a person, and I want to keep indulging in that and growing.

As someone that hasn’t had a “job” for a long time, I think there’s a lot of satisfaction in that itself.

Sarah Petty:

This is perfect because it affords you the opportunity to be that hands on mom, but also becoming a leader in your market and with your family and with your husband’s business.

That shows your kids so much to see you thriving and going for your dreams.

So what do you say to that other mom who’s out there who’s telling themselves they can’t do it because their kids are still at home and they’re too little? 

Andrea:

I say you need to let it out and let it shine because it will help you be a better mom for them when you start nurturing that part of yourself.

It heals you, brings you to life, and reignites passion inside of you.

Your children see you more fulfilled and happier in general because you’re getting to express yourself in another outlet.

I think if you dig into that creativity and nurture it, only good things can come from it. 

follow boutique photographer sarah petty on instagram to learn more about the boutique photography timeline

Working photographer, coach, mama, and wife. Whether you’re looking to take your photography business full-time or simply make good money on a very part-time basis so you can contribute to your family financially and be your best self, we’ve got something for you.

I’m Sarah Petty

Hey, there!