This is the second interview in my Creative Careers series. Today's interview is with my friend and college sorority sister, Jessica Christie, who is a photographer living in Denver, Colorado. Here's what she had to say about her creative career!

Have you always known you wanted to be a photographer? If not, when did you first realize it?
I didn't always know I wanted to be a photographer. I actually wanted to be a ballerina growing up. I however have always loved capturing memories and documented my high school and college years fairly well. When I started college, I started as a psychology major, but quickly realized that I needed to keep creativity a part of my life. I had always loved drawing, painting, music, etc. So even though I wasn't sure what it was, I switched my major to graphic design. While studying this, I had to take a basic digital photography class, and I soon found myself begging friends and family to let me photograph them. Then a friend who was an acting major asked me how much I would charge to do her headshots. A two hour shoot and fifty dollars later, I decided I wanted to make photography my career.

Tell me a little bit about your education and how it prepared you for this career (or didn't).
I got my BFA in graphic design from Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio. When I switched my major, I really didn't understand everything that graphic design entailed. Had I fully understood it, I may have actually chosen to go to a different college for that degree - a college specifically for art degrees. My program was incredibly small with one professor and about nine students, and quite frankly I don't think I got enough under my belt to really pursue design as a career. But that is definitely okay with me! While I think I am good at design, and can pull it off, photography is my true passion. I wouldn't trade it for the world! What my degree did give me though was the knowledge of how to use the programs I need to do my photography as well as design my website and my brand all on my own. I feel fortunate that I don't have to hire someone when I need to design a business card. 

 Do you do this full time? If not, tell me about your day job (good and the bad). If so, when did you know it was time to make the leap into going full time?
I don't do this full-time yet, although I am so anxious to! I am currently working as an Expert for Apple as well. I've been working in retail since I was 18, so it has made sense to stick with it while my business grows. Apple has provided me with a lot of experience on how to present myself and product well and how to have the best possible customer service. I have been able to learn how to quickly relate to my clients and not just be their photographer, but also their friend. Apple of course has also provided me with a means of getting and learning software and my iMac more thoroughly so I know what I'm doing and not just winging it. It is a great company to work for and I am thankful that I have such a great job to keep me tied over. The downside though is time of course. Making time for my photography business can be tough, but I remind myself every day that it is worth it and that my business and my clients are the most important things. 

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of your job?
The best and my most favorite part of my job is meeting and getting to know my clients! I really have a passion for people and a huge heart, so learning about, helping, and just talking to my clients is the absolute best part of this job!  Connecting with people, getting to know them and then reflecting their personality through my lens is such an amazing feeling. Most of the time, I find myself becoming friends with my clients as time goes on. This is why I didn't become a landscape or architectural photographer. I get so much more out of interacting with someone else, and I allow my client to inspire me while I'm photographing them. It's just more fun that way. 

The least favorite part about my job would have to be the administrative aspect - keeping track of bills, contracts, money. If I could do free shoots all day long and still pay my bills, I would!

When will you feel like you've "made it"? or what is your ultimate long term dream?
I think I will feel like I've made it when everything becomes steady and I can leave Apple. The ultimate goal for my business is so big and would take forever to write. I'm sure there are even aspects I have yet to think about too! But I can foresee having a team, doing workshops, traveling, giving back to my community, and even being known nationally. I also want to start thinking about what I can do to keep my business rolling when life comes around. I plan on having a family one day, and I'll need to find ways to keep going even if I can't do a shoot. My biggest inspiration is Kelly Moore Clark. She started out as a photographer and now as her own camera bag line, Kelly Moore Bags. I haven't decided what I want to do yet in that aspect, but I'm sure it will come to me!

What has been your greatest success?
My greatest success has been figuring out how I can use my talent to give back. From a young age, I have always felt compelled to help women find their value, but never knew how I was going to fulfill this dream. Last year, I had a good friend of mine ask me to photograph her as a way for her to mend from a physically abusive relationship and find her confidence again. Before and during the shoot, she shared her story with me, and all I could think to myself was how her story could help others. I asked if I could post her story on my old blog, and it all began. Since then I have photographed several other women and each shoot left me with a sense of awe and amazement. They had found powerful inner strength and a happiness that think I have yet to even understand. I have called these sessions "Overcoming Sessions." They are dedicated to women who have overcome great struggles in their life, cancer, domestic violence, etc, and are a way for women to help women. A community where we can find the potential and value we have. All proceeds of these sessions go to women's charities. You can read more about the sessions here: http://jessicanchristie.com/?page_id=638.

What is one thing you did wrong?
Other than sending a client the wrong invoice once, I am fortunate to not have encountered many obstacles with my photography career yet. And I quickly fixed the invoice issue and found an amazing invoicing system that does it for me! :) 

If you could go back in time and give yourself a piece of advice, what would it be?
Don't wait. I think I got so nervous after I realized this is what I wanted to do, that I just didn't do anything - what if I'm not good enough, my equipment isn't the best, I have no formal training. I doubted myself. Finally though, I shoved myself out of the nest last year, and it has payed off remarkably. I can only imagine where I would be now had I taken those leaps of faith a little sooner. At least now I know, and as time goes on, I can just keep taking those leaps of faith.

9. Have you ever faced pressure to get a "real" job (aka steady pay, benefits, etc.) and if so, how did you deal with it?

I'm doing it right now! haha! I can't lie...it's nice to know that I can expect a paycheck and that my medical bills will be covered, but at the same time, I know it's not what I want to be doing the rest of my life. Also I believe fully that since photography is what I am supposed to be doing, it will be plenty of real" job. :)

Your favorite inspirational quote / mantra:

Make sure to check out Jessica's website and Facebook page to see more of her photos and learn more about her business!

More Creative Careers interviews:
- Fashion Designer, Sarah Mallory

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