We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Paris Scott. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Paris below.
Paris, appreciate you joining us today. What do you think matters most in terms of achieving success?
Great question! I think there are many perspectives on what successful means to each person first of all. I think the core of truly being successful is investing in yourself and measuring results. Being able to tell yourself when you have done a job well done but also being able to hold yourself accountable and work on the things that arent working for you – And thats so different for everyone and this stems on who you are as a person at the very core. This is beyond being a business owner. Being super transparent with yourself is where it’s at, really.
To me, I really started feeling successful when I stopped caring about what everyone else is doing and what everyone else thought of me. I felt like as my business started to grow quickly too fast, I started to care too much about what everyone else thought of me and it was 24/7. When I told myself I didn’t need validation from social media and that I needed to be proud of my work because it was something I created for my clients and I put my all into it; that was when I started feeling successful. When I felt proud of my work outside of anyone else’s judgement or approval because it was the way I wanted to create it. That’s not to say there isn’t a time and place for helpful criticism and mentoring advice when needed and asked for.
Staying self disciplined has always helped me on being successful in my business, I make a to-do list every office day on what needs to be prioritized, finished, and worked through. This helps through procrastination, which can really pile up if you let it. That anxiety alone,It what I try to stay away from and make sure I have plenty of time in between shoots and editing to where I don’t feel overworked. This allows me to be more adaptable and flexible to work with in general which makes me feel more at ease when working.
Paris, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
Hiya! I’m Paris Scott and Im a Couples Photographer based in Central Florida who specializes in documenting engagements, anniversaries,materntiys, and just because or dates. I prioritize both outdoors/ adventure and lifestyle. My outdoor and adventure sessions are taken throughout the beaches, springs, state parks, forrest, botanical gardens and other preserves to showcase Florida’s unique habitat. I’ve traveled from The Florida keys and photograph couples with its crystal teal/ blueish water all the way to Fernandina Beach in north Florida where I also photographed couples where some of the biggest driftwood in Florida is. There are just so many places in nature I feel super in touch with in Florida and I want my clients to step out and experience it too. Another type of shoot I like to offer to my couples are more of a lifestyle kind of session where I go to their own home or capture them having coffee together all snuggled up in a cafe. Being in my couples home is one of my favorites because everyones home is unique to the couple and I think that can potentially tell more of a story, plus you can include your pets if you want. I also just love to challenge if lighting indoors, it’s all fun for me. There are endless idea with my lifestyle type of shoots, we can get create and have the couple skateboarding together, taking a stroll downtown, or learning an instrument together; The possibilities on ideas are endless – truly.
I got into wedding photography back in 2016 before I started my own business in 2018 as an independent contractor through an established wedding photography business who was based in Florida and New York called Angel Kiss Images. The photographer couple, Charlie and Wendy had hired me after seeing me at a friends wedding I attended at Bok Tower Gardens when I just brought my camera for fun to take photos. It wasn’t anything serious, I just wanted to see if it was something I would ever enjoy and I instantly was stoked about it. Don’t worry I asked the previous photographers if it was okay ahead of time if I could bring my camera even as a guest and they were super cool about it. Working with them afterwards really instilled a lot of confidence in myself, I had mentors and I really felt like I had found my calling. It changed my entire life, like the butterfly effect.
I’m most proud that all the work that I have taken, I know I always strive for the best that I can do. I’m always trying to learn something new within my field so that I can stay with my own style of photography. I have been obsessed with other photographers work even before I started getting into this at all and it feels good about everything I have learned and applied. I really try to go for the whole ethereal, dreamy, romantic and zen vibes in my photos. I love to blend most of a warm, moodier editing style with a touch of coolness in the highlights. I also want my couples photos to feel cinematic like if they were in a movie and somewhat more documentary-like. I work best when it’s just me and the couple in a calm environment knowing I can take my time and be super intentional with what photos I take. I truly want any couple, any race, any sexual orientation, any culture to feel comfortable enough to work with me. That’s the fun of it anyways, is I always learn something new about my couples in the process while I’m freezing your memories in time. I truly love to capture a couples personality and their connection with each other because its unique to that couple. I really want them to feel like they were seen for who they are inside. I want them to FEEL that in their portraits.
How did you put together the initial capital you needed to start your business?
For sure! I really wanted to make sure I had enough time to dedicate and emerise myself in learning photography and business before I jumped into it full time. I knew that I would need a little more of an open schedule to really make it work for myself long term- it was always an investment in myself. The day I decided to pursue my photography business at all was the same day I went part time with my job. I happened to had purchased my business license and registered a P.O. box all within the same day, I was pretty committed to figuring out how I was going to make it work financially. By being part time, I was able to upgrade my camera and lenses, to start investing in editing softwares like the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite, and client management programs like Honeybook. I reinvested money that I earned through my business during that time into my equipment, softwares, programs, education, props honestly I kept spending my money directly into my business. Sometimes even working for free so that I could keep building on my own skills. I had the expectation that my business wouldn’t be profitable to also fully support myself within the first year or two. Especially if I wanted to take my time honing in on my craft and have this work for me long in the term.
While I was working a my job for almost two years part time and working on my business. I made sure to put back about 30% back into my business, 20% into personal savings, 20% for taxes, and the remaining amount I paid myself. I saved about 6 months of living expenses and saved a certain amount in my business account before going full time. Really, I started getting so busy that I couldn’t juggle working both my job and owning and operating my business the way I wanted to. I knew I had solid income coming in for at least a year so everything felt right at that time. This was all happening at the end of 2019, right before the Pandemic. At times, I do think about if I had just stayed at my job a little longer, saved even more money; how much better I would have been just mentally. Because – We all know financial instability was hitting a lot of small business owners and just so many people in general in the year 2020. And that trickles down years down the road. I definitely learned a lot and how I will be preparing for future emergencies because they can happen at any time. I still wouldn’t change anything – I’ve had way too many cool experiences between then and now that’s taken me all over the country to work with so many unique personalities because of my business.
Somehow someway I’ve made it work financially and I know this sounds counterintuitive but I try to focus on the money less, and more about my clients experience with me as their photographer. I think how I show up, what experience I provide should determine how much money someone spends. As soon as I start stressing about anything financial, it always messes with my own attitude. I know word of mouth is a driving force in my business and I kind of like it that way so I like to keep a good attitude with pleasant energy. Dont get me wrong though, if anything after running my business throughout the Pandemic I now pay attention to finances more than I have in the past so that Im better prepared for future emergencies, investments, ect. Working through real financial problems on my own throughout 2020/2022 is what strengthened my perspective on money, and helped me shape what I know works best for me. Sometimes others will try to help you and they may have the best advice ever, but for me; actually throwing myself into the fire and learning from it on my own is the best teachings within itself. As I approach almost 5 years as a business own; I’m excited to see how I will continue to generate money, how much I will make business/ personal niching down into a very specific type of photography on a long term basis.
Are there any books, videos, essays or other resources that have significantly impacted your management and entrepreneurial thinking and philosophy?
Yes! There are quite a few book that has very much impacted both management in general and my entrepreneurial mindset. The book Mastery by Robert Greene is one of my favorites; Robert Greene is just a fantastic author in general and I highly recommend reading more of his books. Achieving mastery in life is a lot of work but a very flourishing one. He really stresses the importance of self discipline, persevering through difficult challenges, the importance of an adaptive and active mind and independent thinking which all really changed who I am as a person, which fundamentally changed how I operate my own business. He talks about two strategies that really resonated with me. One was more of a Dawininan strategy but its to occupy your perfect niche. Find the best suited career niche that best fits your interest and talents and continue to evolve it over time. Which is what I have implemented in my own business and I continue to develop my niche to the point where you know it’s my own work when you see it. The other strategy he talks about in his book is letting go of the past, more of an adaptation strategy. Its something I have also had to go through the process of throughout my business and will have to continue to go through, to better analyze, learn and adapt to. One quote I also really resonated from his book was this “You must adapt your Life’s Task to these circumstances. You do not hold on to past ways of doing things, because it will ensure you will fall behind and suffer for it. You are flexible and looking to adapt.” This quote inspires me to always learn and never get too comfortable in what I’m doing because it’s safe and reassuring.
Another book that has really shaped my thinking overall is actually more of a self help type of book with humor for all women, all people out there and anyone willing to pay attention to relationships in general is called Girl Logic: The Genius and the Absurdity. Its written by a very funny and intelligent comedian by the name of Iliza Shlesinger who has a handful of Netflix Comedy Specials, please check her out if you haven’t! She is hilarious! Her book really instilled more confidence in myself because it was the first time I felt validated about the confusing, frustrating, and often contradictory life experience it comes with being a female. She talks about it in her book how we can often be expected to be perfect, look perfect and have perfect relationships, whatever that even means. The truth is our obsessions with perfection isn’t just about what we expect from men- it’s about what we expect from ourselves. She also talks about how you teach people how to treat you, and if you don’t like it, educate them and that one really hit me deep. We can be picky on who we choose our battles with but she talks about if you aren’t getting the respect you deserve, then demand it or ignore them. Just reading through her book really allowed me to take a step back personally and address myself as a woman and the other women around me that I work with. I tend to work with alot of female clients and this book gave me even better insight + understanding since I do photograph my clients in more vulnerable and personable situations. I think that also makes me a way better photographer than who I was a year ago even. This book also taught me to let go of what my obsessions about what other people are doing and what everyone else thinks of me. People will never stop moving past me, things will never completely go my way but I will never stop trying. I’ve become way more at peace with myself knowing all I can do is take comfort in the fact that all I can do, well is do what I’m doing. This shift in my mindset has really alone made in difference in my own energy and images I produce. I really have to say, her book really was a missing puzzle piece for me and I’m so glad I found it and read it because I feel way more confident in what I do now.