Today we’d like to introduce you to Elissa Woog.
Hi Elissa, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
In my past life, I was in public accounting at one of the “Big Four” firms. I did this for six years and while working around the clock and constantly traveling away from home, I knew this lifestyle would not allow me to be the wife and someday mom I wanted to be. It did not give me the creative outlet that I yearned for. I jumped ship with the support of my incredible husband and dove straight into something I thought I loved – wedding planning. I was a lead planner for only a handful of weddings which quickly confirmed this was not the creative work I had hoped for. What I did learn from this experience is I loved being a part of people’s stories and their memories. I met a wedding photographer at a networking event and began interning for her. I began to learn how to use my camera and the basics of photography. I assisted and shot for numerous photographers and donated so much of my time to learn. I invested thousands of dollars in equipment and education. I began to schedule sessions on my own and then started charging for my work. The better I got, the deeper I fell in love with photography. Here I am, almost six years later and I am making a living doing what I love and teaching my daughter that she is her only limitation in achieving anything she wants. I am so grateful for the mentors who shared their knowledge and talent with me, for nothing in return other than the hope to see me succeed. I am beyond blessed for a client base who has supported my business and continues to be loyal year after year, even as my prices have raised. I am thankful for the clients who have become friends. I truly can’t imagine doing anything else in my life and I feel so humbled to have found photography.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The only thing smooth about starting a business is being so incredibly passionate about what I do. I’m still in awe when I’m driving to a wedding and it hits me that this is how I get to make a living or when I leave a newborn session and realize that I got the honor of taking their first family photos that they’ll look back on for years to come. Struggles that I’ve encountered as a business owner and photographer are setting boundaries/charging my worth, burnout, comparison, and constantly juggling social media, emails, editing, etc., all while trying to nurture and improve my craft. I tend to chuckle when people make comments like, “your camera takes really good pictures” or “wow, I should buy a camera like that so I can take pictures like you.” Although I know that these comments don’t come from an insulting place and although it’s comforting that people only see your success and not your struggles, owning your own business is HARD. There’s no one to hold you accountable or offer help if you’re struggling. No one sees the late nights and early mornings trying to work while your family is asleep, the hours put in driving around scouting to find new shooting locations, the email correspondence and phone calls, the rejection, the frustration in trying to perfect something technical, the self-doubt, the constant expenses, the equipment maintenance, all the behind the scenes stuff that needs to be done to actually keep a business afloat. You truly have to put in the time and work and the grit to keep on going even when it would be easier just to give up.
As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
Against what all marketing experts say, I have not chosen a “niche” and enjoy photography everything from senior portraits, newborns, weddings, families, to corporate headshots. I truly enjoy connecting with people and making them feel comfortable. Since becoming a mom in 2020, I have realized that time is a thief and that the moments in our life are truly that – moments in time. When I first started photography, I would go into a session with a list of poses I wanted to do that I had seen saw on Pinterest. I quickly realized that 1) this is no way to make art and 2) the chances of getting that exact pose are slim to none. You have to embrace the personalities and temperaments (hellllo two years old) of the people being photographed, the lighting, and all the variables of that very moment, that will create the perfect shot. I think what sets me apart is my ability to make others feel comfortable. I can find things to talk about with Grandpa, pick on Dad, make mom feel like the queen she is, joke with teenagers, or sing Cocomelon with toddlers. I genuinely care about how others feel and I *hope* that they can feel this and their comfort shows in the photographs.
The thing I’m most proud of is making the jump to leave a career that no longer served me and by doing so creating a profitable business and the freedom working for myself has given me. I hope within the next few years I can purchase my own photo studio and strive to make six figures.
We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
As a mom and business owner, to me, success is when you are at a level in your career that allows BOTH 1) financial freedom and 2) flexibility with your time. I truly desire to be the absolute best wife, mother, businesswoman, and photographer that I can be and to excel at each and every one of these roles. I can’t do this if I don’t have financial freedom and flexibility. Once you find this groove of having your work and life perfectly blended, I think that’s when success is found.
- Wedding packages begin at $2,150
- Portrait sessions (Family, maternity, etc.) begin at $500
- Newborn lifestyle photography begins at $550
- Senior Portraits begin at $575
- Website: www.elissawoogphotography.com
- Instagram: elissawoogphotography
- Facebook: elissawoog.photography