We were lucky to catch up with Bethany Ellen recently and have shared our conversation below.
Bethany, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. Let’s jump to the end – what do you want to be remembered for?
Being a photographer, our legacy is often remembered, but hardly captured. I hope people appreciate the moments in time I was able to freeze for their family, often at the expense of my own documentation of my family. I won’t say the job is thankless, I get thanked all the time because I have the very best clients. But I hope that as clients look fondly back on the memories of their sessions, they remember just how much I loved being a part of all those special moments as well. I didn’t solely pick up this job for the money, I did it because it’s an incredible privilege to be there, experiencing the core memories people make around me.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
I started photography rather inexperienced, I didn’t even have my own camera. In fact, when I wanted to start I got told that I would be sued because I’d do such a bad job. Now I’m the youngest Certified Professional Photographer in Cincinnati, and the winner of The Creator Series on Youtube.
Every time I started to get stagnant, I found a new way to raise the bar. I started photographing competitively to better train my eye. I started experimenting with fashion and lighting to create something that would stop the social media scroll. I started learning new types of photography that set me apart from other photographers. I competed on a reality show to see how I could handle the pressure. Every innovation was to keep me from getting complacent.
Looking back, are there any resources you wish you knew about earlier in your creative journey?
I wish I had started connecting in the industry sooner. Photography is a very saturated market, but professional photographers are very tightly connected. I wish I hadn’t been so focused on blocking out everyone, because it would have given me a better opportunity to learn from people who had been in my shoes before.
We’d love to hear the story of how you turned a side-hustle into a something much bigger.
I worked 16-20 hour days for 7 years before I was able to quit my full time job. It was a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of sacrificed weekends, and a lot of stress.
Conferences really started to change the game for me. I met people who had done the work and quit their jobs, and I always told them “I’m gonna do that”. I did, but it took a ton of patience. A lot of people expect to try one new marketing trend and to see thousands of leads pop up in their inbox. In reality it takes a lot of repetition, consistency, and hard work. Having mentors changed the game for me.
Meeting others in the industry also gave me a sense of identity outside of my current job, which held a great deal of my social life for so long. I had made all my friends there- it was hard to ever consider doing something else. Eventually, I started to see a flip and my coworkers started to see it too. One of them even said “you’ll be doing this full time soon, I guarantee it.” Eventually it kind of became a whole company standard- Bethany’s going to go off and do her own thing someday.
- Website: www.bethany-ellen.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/bethany-ellen
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/bethanyellenai
Photo credit to my headshot: Alex Buchholz