If you are a regular reader of this blog then you already know that from time to time, we carry out interviews of other bloggers and business personalities. I became interested about Aimee Laine because of the nice photographs you can find in her website http://www.aimeelaine.com . She really has the skill of turning a photograph in to an art work. Aimee Laine used to do a full time job and then she decided to become self employed. I have done the same thing 4 years ago and I know how challenging it is. If you visit her website and see her samples then you will realize that she is giving all her efforts to develop her business. Aimee Laine is also a freelance writer.
I emailed her the questions and got a quick reply to the interview questions. Here is the interview:
Razib Ahmed: What led you to set up Aimee Laine, LLC instead of just working as a freelance photographer? Don’t you think that managing a company is time consuming and difficult?
Aimee Laine: Effectively I am a freelance photographer. I choose every project I take and work with a variety of clientele including individuals as well as commercial businesses -- of my choice. :) But for tax purposes, security and legal reasons, I own a company that happens to be my name. I do think managing a company is time consuming, but I love it! I got my MBA in 2002 because I wanted to grow as an entrepreneur. It's not about it being difficult, for me, it's an extension of my education and experience. I have loved as many minutes as I've hated. That old saying "the grass is greener" is true ... from both sides -- corporate
and the ideal : self-employment. America
Razib Ahmed: Kindly tell us about the services that you offer.
Aimee Laine: As a Photographic Artist, I create imagery of people's lives, either in my studio where the moments are more planned and setup or in real life where a home, park, building or other environment is the stage. As a writer, I often incorporate words, prose or entire stories into the images I create. I make up stories too that tell something completely different than the image shows -- in line with the old adage "a picture's worth a thousand words". On the flip side, I also instruct. Digital cameras are prolific but people have no idea how to use them and the manuals stay tucked away inside the plastic sheath in which they were shipped. Even when they are pulled out and dusted off, they don't make practical sense to most. So I spend time teaching how to use cameras to get some of the "cool" effects people see in images ... like how the background can be a blur while the foreground is crisp and sharp.
Razib Ahmed: Have you suffered any problems during the economic recession that started at the end of 2008 and is perhaps still going on? How could you overcome the problems?
Aimee Laine: Yes, absolutely and unfortunately. It hit us in May 2009 and has not yet eased. Photography and story telling can be done by anyone and the value one places on those two talents/gifts is often limited to their budget for them. When the economy takes its toll on a family, they often revert to their own skills and call it "enough to get by". There is no one way to overcome the problems. We've run specials, fun events and created opportunities for them to spend less and get more but even those will be bypassed in favor of groceries and gas where needed. For us, we'll continue to be supportive of our clients and to welcome them back with open arms when they are ready.
Razib Ahmed: You used to have a full time job and then you started your own business and you successfully survived for more than 2 years. What advice would you like to give to anyone who wants to quit a full time job and start their business?
Aimee Laine: Don't do it. :) Ha ha. That was the hardest decision of my life as I am the primary breadwinner in my family. But I was ready and as I stood on that proverbial diving board ready to jump, it all but threw me off. We've succeeded because our clientele have been wonderful and supportive and trusted us with their many opportunities. But the last year has proven difficult and has tested us more than at any other time. We've had to get creative, push boundaries, pursue other avenues for our work. My greatest advice to anyone ready to make that leap : Don't burn bridges. Be prepared, if the time comes, to go back to what you used to do if you have to -- or to blend the two. Be open to opportunities that aren't in line with your direct goals to get you through. Then when the situation rectifies itself you'll be better prepared for the long haul.
Razib Ahmed: What caused you to open a blog? Do you think your blog has been helpful to your business? If so then how?
Aimee Laine: I love to write. I write in three different blogs -- one private and personal that I share only with my family; that's the one I write my deepest darkest secrets in. :) I have my photography blog in which I share about my customers, their accolades, their images and show off their cute kids for the world to see. And then my writing blog. I separated them because to me they are separate, but I often take a photo as inspiration and write a quick flash piece around it.
A blog is helpful for a number of reasons : it shows who you are and what you can do. Photographically, it's a historical record of my progress as I've grown and established my style. In writing, it's been the key element in my ability to get a few writing deals for a couple of magazines. It's there for the public, but more than that, for people who need to see I can do what I say beyond my ability to convince them in an email.
Razib Ahmed: I liked your pictures that I could find in your website and I am sure that many people like them too. I think that you should write an e-book so that you can help others to learn to take excellent pictures. Do you have any plan for that?
Aimee Laine: No, no plans on that. There are TONS of how-to books on photography. If I were approached by a company, sure I'd do it in a heartbeat, but it's not an avenue I'll likely pursue on my own -- instead I'll build up my instructional schedule and work more one on one. Photography is so very subjective and in a book I could say 'do it this way' when in reality there are ten different ways to accomplish the same goal. When I teach, I impress that upon my students -- find your niche whether it's just fun or more formal. Find it.
Razib Ahmed: What is your dream as a freelance writer?
Aimee Laine: My dream is to see one, just one, of my books on a shelf at my grocery store. :) Now, granted, I know I'd have to be more than a best selling author to make that happen, but that's my dream -- and everyone needs one of those! Some day I might just have to print mine out and put it on the shelf, photograph it and pretend, but hey ... one can dream. :)
Razib Ahmed: If you don’t mind then please, tell us something about your personal and professional background.
Aimee Laine: I don't mind! I live in
North Carolina -- in the , half-way between the mountains and the beach and yet I visit neither regularly. I have been connected to my husband of 16 years for 22 years (since I was 14 -- you can do the math) and I have three kids -- one son and identical twin girls who are so very different and yet completely the same. I began to work in corporate U.S.A. the day after I graduated from college with my Applied Math degree in 1996, added my MBA in 2002 and quit to be my own boss December 31, 2006. My husband works with me and my kids are great cleaners but generally make a bigger mess than the one they cleaned. 2009 was an incredibly tough year and here we are in 2010 ready to roll. America