Have you ever dreamed of taking your hobby and turning into a profitable business? How about turning your side hustle into a full-time career? On Episode #92 of the Second Act Success Career Podcast, New Jersey photographer Christina Greenberg joins Shannon, as she shares how she picked up a camera to take photos of her children and ended up launching a successful business with The Littlest Detail Photography.
If you need to make a little extra money and wonder if you can grow this into sometime larger than life, keep listening to hear how it truly is possible. Christina Greenberg went from a stay-at-home mom to working part time at a local office to now running her own photography business that provides flexibility as a mom and brings income to her family, all while she stays creative capturing happy moments for others.
Connect with Christina Greenberg:
Website - HERE
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/thelittlestdetailphotography/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/TheLittlestDetailPhoto
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Second Act Success Career Podcast
Season 1 - From Side Hustle To Full-Time With Photographer Christina Greenberg
Episode - #92
Host: Shannon Russell
Guest: Christina Greenberg
Transcription (*created by Descript and may not be perfectly accurate)
[00:00:00] Christina: I had 1,000,001 reasons to never get behind my camera.
I get very anxious. But, I think life is too short to not take chances.
I am constantly amazed at where I am, where I started, and always excited about what's coming next.
[00:00:15] Shannon: Do you need some clarity on what it is you are meant to be doing? Then don't miss my Career Clarity Masterclass. It's happening on Tuesday, July 18th at 12:00 PM Eastern time, 9:00 AM Pacific Sign up for free at www.secondactsuccess.co/masterclass. During this time together, I will walk you through my four steps to career clarity.
I will give you actionable steps to implement right away. Plus you'll get access to the, My Success Journal just for joining. Go to www.secondactsuccess.co/masterclass to register. I'll see you there.
[00:01:24] Shannon: If you have been working on your side hustle or dreaming of a way to turn a hobby into a profitable business, stay tuned. I am career coach Shannon Russell. And on today's episode, I have my good friend, Christina Greenberg joining us. Christina is a New Jersey photographer and the founder of The Littlest Detail Photography. Christina left an office job to be a stay at home mom for her two kids. She eventually went back to work. Part-time at a local office. And in trying to bring in extra money to her family, she picked up a camera and started taking photographs of her family [00:02:00] and friends. Christina is here to talk about how she took this love of photography And grew it into a full time business. let's get started. This is Christina Greenberg and her second act success story.
[00:02:13] Shannon: welcome, Christina Greenberg. How are you?
[00:02:16] Christina: I'm great. How are you?
[00:02:18] Shannon: Good. I'm so happy to be chatting with you. We have been friends for a few years now and we met the first time when you came and took photos of my other business Snapology. And then we've just, been friends ever since.
So I thought you'd be the perfect person to come on and tell us about your journey of really building a side hustle and making it become your full-time job. But let's start with where your first act began.
[00:02:45] Christina: I actually went to school to be an English teacher for middle school students. And I did that for like three months. And then I came home and I said to my mom, I love the kids. I'm gonna kill somebody's parent. Like I love the kids. I could be with kids all day long. I can't handle [00:03:00] parents.
So I said to her, I really I don't think this is for me. And I was kind of in a unique position because I worked full-time while I went to college, so I was already an office manager and I was making a full salary. So that was where I really started. I was an office manager for almost 10 years, and then we had kids. And I did not go back after having my kids. I was like, I don't, I don't want somebody else raising them. I wanna be here for the first steps, for the first words, the first big scrape, na. We needed to find an x-ray for money to come into the house. For a while, I worked, for ADL, it's a dumpster rental company. I did that like part-time And I said to my husband, I did photography in high school. I think I'm gonna try to make a go of this. And then that's kind of where The Littlest Detail started.
It really started, one of my best friends here in Keyport, Stacy, she said listen, my current photographer, the dates aren't working. She upped her price like, Why don't you give [00:04:00] it a whirl? I had already been taking my own kids' Christmas pictures for the last two years.
She was like, why don't you do mine? And then people asked her, these came out great. Who did you use? So she started recommending me and that's kind of where the ball started. Rolling.
My first, somebody I did not know, a stranger that hired me, it was at Homedale Park, it started snowing. I pull up and there are six police cars around the car in the parking lot. And I'm like, what is going on? So luckily it was not my client, it was a mother and a daughter and then two nephews and the little girl kept saying to me, you better hurry up.
Somebody's gonna call the cops. And the mom said, oh, we, we watched Home Alone two this morning. So I said, okay. But she kept repeating it. I grew up around special needs kids. And I'm like, I'm just.
It's not gonna make a big deal out of this, right?
She really didn't wanna stay still for photos. So most of those pictures were ones of her like twirling. I would get her to tell me a joke and then I would catch her laughing [00:05:00] afterwards. I emailed this mother her photos, and I don't hear anything for a week, and I said to my husband,
all right. This is not meant to be right. I can't take this kind of rejection. She finally messages me and she says, Christina, I couldn't even find the words because I have been crying since you sent me these photos. She said, the last time I tried to take professional photos of my daughter was at JC Penney and she's autistic, and they told me she was un photographable, that nobody in the studio could work with her.
And she said, you just kind of rolled with whatever she was doing. And she's like, I had very low expectations. And she said, I've just been sitting here. Crying.
So then I said to my husband, okay, well maybe I am in the right business
[00:05:46] Shannon: So then you thought, okay, this could be the perfect opportunity to bring money into the family while I'm home
with the kids.
[00:05:53] Christina: Yep.
[00:05:54] Shannon: Now people are recommending you, but how did you actually decide to form a business around it?
[00:05:59] Christina: When it got to [00:06:00] the point where I was like, it's not me putting myself out there. People are coming to me, and saying, oh, I saw your work here, or I follow you on Instagram and now this is more than just a little side hustle.
[00:06:13] Shannon: Was there a breaking point where you said, that's it, I really want to try to make this
[00:06:19] Christina: So by August, ADL was really growing also, there is no way I could continue doing both of these part-time, like. They're both demanding more of my time, so I had to tell them like, it would be a disservice to both of us at this point if I tried to go through the holiday season working for you because with photos, it doesn't end when I finish the shoot.
I have to upload, I have to weed through then I have to go back and edit everything. Then I have to deliver. there's no way that I could possibly be working another job and do the number of shoots I already had lined up.
either their business is gonna end up hurting or I'm gonna end up [00:07:00] hurting. So we kind of just came to the decision that I was gonna jump two feet in and knock on wood, I've really been booked since.
[00:07:09] Shannon: and you still have young kids, and that was the whole point of you wanting to be there and be present. So that's a balance that you had to
[00:07:17] Christina: Right? I'm still able to make every basketball game, every wrestling match for the most part.
So it's really just kind of snowballed into bigger than I think I even realized it could have been. Like if you would've told me even six years ago, you're gonna have a photography business, it's gonna be your full-time job, I would've told you, you're absolutely insane.
[00:07:39] Shannon: Right. It was just this little idea that just grew into something that's really providing for your
[00:07:44] Christina: Right. And I love to tell people my job is I get to capture people's happy moments. Right. I literally love what I do every day because I capture people's happy. Right? Do I see your kids screaming? Absolutely. [00:08:00] But even those moments, like I tell people, some of my favorite photos of my kids are them throwing tamper tantrums.
Like at the time you're like mortified. But they really do become some of the cutest photos.
[00:08:12] Shannon: They are. And you're right, it's always that someone's happy moment, right? They're, they're celebrating something, they wanna capture the beautiful season that it is, whatever it might be, and you're there sharing
[00:08:23] Christina: This week I had someone reach out and say to me, can you capture our gender reveal? Which I love doing because it's just like that moment when they find out if they're having a boy or a girl, and the excitement. Those are some of my favorites.
[00:08:36] Shannon: I love that. It's fitting into your lifestyle and I think that's why a lot of people work their full-time job and maybe start that side hustle. Start it, see how it grows. That's kind of the safe way to do it, to see if you really do have something that people want, and then when you can make that leap, that's just such a huge pride moment to say, okay, this is it. This is [00:09:00] legit. I'm in business, and I'm still able to have that flexibility. I talk a lot with my clients about non-negotiables. And if you are gonna make a change in something, you wanna make sure you're changing to something that's going to better your life, rather than just find yourself in the same position again now in a new career or a new move.
So the fact that you said, okay, I wanna have this flexibility, I wanna be able to make the wrestling matches, make the basketball games, be home for dinner, dinner, and it seemed like this business really checked all the
[00:09:32] Christina: Yeah, and I think the other thing is I didn't wanna go to work anymore and just be okay with what I was doing. I wanted to be excited about it. I don't wanna say that there's never a bad day behind my lens, because there obviously have been, but with that also, there's never been a time where I've had to tell someone I literally have nothing to deliver to you.
That has never happened, and I, I do, I look forward to going behind my camera every time I pick it up. So that was like a big thing for me. I didn't wanna be [00:10:00] looking back at my life and saying, well, I did something that was just okay. Like, I didn't love it.
And I tell my kids all the time, you need to find something that you like, right? Because as Americans, we really spend way too much time working to not really enjoy what you're doing. So find whatever hobby you love and figure out how to make it a business,
[00:10:21] Shannon: And to know that it's okay to change at our age, right? Like it's okay to start something and do that, and then you get to a point where things just feel a little different or you say, okay, great. I can check the box that I did that. Now let's find something else that fills me up. So I really love that you were able to do that and you're growing and just because I know you personally, I know you've experimented with, you know, oh, I'm gonna get this more expensive lens and I'm gonna try this, and now I'm finding new locations and getting your new booking system.
All of those things are exciting and new and allowing you to grow bigger.
[00:10:56] Christina: Yeah. Like we crack up. The camera I started with was [00:11:00] an EOS from Target, I think it was $300. And I said to my husband, if you would tell me that I'd be carrying 10 GR and equipment around on my back like that, I've even gotten to the point where I have lenses that are $3,000 a piece.
Like it's, it's absolutely insane to
[00:11:16] Shannon: Right. You've learned so much over this
[00:11:19] Christina: Yeah.
[00:11:20] Shannon: brings me to a really good question of that. It was a $300 investment to try this. It wasn't like you spent so much, you are self-taught as
[00:11:30] Christina: Yeah. other than the class I took in high school, which was not portrait photography. Yeah, completely self-taught. There's a lot of YouTube videos, and really just a lot of talking to other photographers. I find that you really learn so much from people who do things that you do as well and that love it as much as you do.
And most people really wanna share their knowledge. This is where I came from. I found this worked, this does not work. And just constantly, always learning I'm always looking for the next piece of equipment. I was so inspired by [00:12:00] you went away to a conference last year
and I'm like, oh, there's definitely photography conferences out there.
So now I'm looking at those like, the fact that I'm even considering going away by myself to go invest in my business. Just constantly learning.
I really don't think people should be paying an arm and a leg for 20 minutes of Christmas photos. Right? And maybe it's just because I grew up in a family that really didn't have money. We don't have a lot of photos from when I'm little.
I wish we had more family photos. Like I wish they were pictures of the six of us running through a tree farm. So I feel like if I stay at a lower price point and that enables a family to take something that they wouldn't do, or even if they saved up to $300 for the shoot, I tell people all the time, go make a memory with your kids.
Go do something that they're gonna remember, because Christmas photos are not gonna be the thing that they're like, oh my God, I loved it so much. I mean, I have fun with your kids, but they're not gonna be like, remember all those years we went and sold that lady for 20 minutes? So I think that's my thing.[00:13:00]
And even things like when I talk to people with sweet sixteens that they get quotes of like 2,500 or $3,000. Yeah. Some people absolutely can't afford it. But at the same time, I know I take beautiful photos and I know that I give somebody a memory, right?
My pricing enables people who maybe wouldn't be able to afford it to say, okay, that's something we could add on to the party. I think that's kind of what makes my business unique. I think with all the inflation going on, it's definitely what has kept people coming back to me for pictures.
Even though everything else costs so much more, I really have kind of stayed steady. So I think there's something to be said for
[00:13:37] Shannon: Yep. And it, it sets you apart for sure. And also I think the thing that sets you apart is you and your personality. And I really wanna touch upon that cuz you just told me a story of going to photograph this kind of business dinner and you went dressed up where other photographers might not. And something really
[00:13:59] Christina: [00:14:00] Yeah, so I made a really great first impression and that led to a month and a half later a phone call with a potentially really big opportunity for The Littlest Detail it could lead to me being published for the second time. The first time was in People, so, I'm always amazed, but that is, we've talked about this.
It's something I live by. When you walk out that door, I never leave my house not dressed right. That doesn't mean not in yoga pants. Right? But you will never catch me out in pajamas because you don't know who you're meeting, you don't know who your next business connection is. You don't know who you're gonna talk to and say, I have this crazy idea of something that I can make money off of.
And somebody might say, you know what? That sounds great. I wanna back you on that.
People aren't approaching people in their pajama pants with food crested to them. you may be comfortable, but it's not a good look. I don't care who you are.
[00:14:49] Shannon: No.
[00:14:49] Christina: I was told several times that it I was very well put together.
I did not look like the weight
[00:14:54] Shannon: Mm-hmm.
[00:14:55] Christina: I had a personality
and, and it opens doors [00:15:00] sometimes. So
[00:15:01] Shannon: a long way, and that's such a testament to you.
[00:15:34] Shannon: So let's talk about the kind of photography that you do. So you portrait photography, photograph families, but you also do interiors and editorial type of work. So just tell us a little bit about the work you're interested in doing.
[00:15:45] Christina: I love capturing people kind of as they are. I love candid sessions. I love when families kind of play with each other in front of the camera and aren't super stiff. My favorite captures are always moments, actually, when people are probably not looking at [00:16:00] me. The only thing I don't really enjoy shooting is big weddings, like big, huge weddings, and in studio shoots that almost look super photoshopped.
Those are just two things that they, they don't make me happy, so I don't shoot them. You know, I think they're beautiful. I think other people do them beautifully, but that's not. It's not what excites me. So that's the beauty of this is I get to do things that excite
[00:16:26] Shannon: Yep. And you can do them well, right? You niche down into what you want, and you're even better at
[00:16:31] Christina: Right. So like I was one of the first in this area to do Ha Coco Minis.
I've been doing them for three years. They are some of my favorite shoots of the season. Like in Christmas, like there was nothing better than putting a baby in a giant cup of ha cocoa with some big campfire marshmallows. But I was one of the first to start doing it, and it's one of my best sellers every Christmas.
[00:16:52] Shannon: They're adorable. I'll have to get some of your photos and link to everything in the show notes and put those up for people to come see cause they're so [00:17:00] cute. So let's talk about your advice for other people who are sitting here listening, going, well, I have a hobby and maybe I can make that into a business.
If someone. Kind of has an interest, but they're not sure where to start, whether it's photography or writing a book, or starting a business or anything. What's your advice from your experience on how they can get started?
[00:17:20] Christina: So my first piece of advice would be to write things down. As ideas come to you, get a pad that's just for whatever you think you wanna embark on and write them down, because I feel like sometimes you're not really sure where to start, and then when you see what you're writing down on paper, all of a sudden you're like, okay, I can connect this to this and that to that.
And then research it, see if somebody else has done it. Don't be afraid to reach out and message someone. How did you get started? Where was your beginning? I kind of have this idea rolling. And then just jump in. I think that was the biggest thing for me. I had 1,000,001 reasons to never get behind my camera.
I get very anxious. My biggest fear is that one day somebody's gonna turn around and be [00:18:00] like, I hate them.
If It happens. It happens. And it is what it is and you learn from those mistakes. But, I think life is too short to not take chances.
So I think once you can sort of formulate what exactly you wanna do and figure out how you wanna make money off of your hobby, I. Then it's just figuring out how to implement it and not being afraid of the risk. Start it off as a side hustle. Do it slow. See if you could build it from there, I used to hate when my parents would tell me that Rome wasn't built in a day.
But I am constantly amazed at where I am, where I started, and always excited about what's coming next.
[00:18:38] Shannon: Do you think having the other part-time job enabled you to feel a little more confident
[00:18:44] Christina: I think that enabled me to really say like, okay, I can buy more equipment. Right. That really helped to advance the business. And I have to give it to the owners of Lisa and Dan of ADL. They were really so supportive, like, If you would've told me I would've been photographing construction [00:19:00] sites or anything like that, I would've said no.
But I, I did. They've used their, my photos on their own site, on their Facebook posts.
I think that we were both mutually a part of growing each other's businesses, which is exciting to then see where each we're each branching off
[00:19:15] Shannon: Absolutely. And that's like another, lesson right there. Don't burn a bridge, right? Like, don't just storm out and say, I quit, and now these people are never gonna wanna refer you or work with you. So you did it right. you did it right.
[00:19:27] Christina: They were a big inspiration in a way because just watching them grow a business from a side hustle,
they had already been down that road. So like I said, talk to people.
[00:19:37] Shannon: Yep. And now did you find that there was competition, like you're saying, talk to people, reach out to other photographers like. You did. Did you find that some did not wanna talk to you because you were like another competitor in the
[00:19:49] Christina: Oh yeah. Some people are super sweet. How are you? How are your shoots going? And there are other people who won't even say hello to you, like, look at you like you're intruding on their [00:20:00] space.
To me, there's a photographer for everybody or maybe even a different photographer for different occasions. . I find like Facebook is a great support area because I can talk to photographers in Arizona that will tell me whatever I wanna know because I'm never gonna be their competition, right?
I'm never gonna be shooting the same thing as them.
[00:20:18] Shannon: That's a great, great tip and piece of advice to go online because nowadays we're so connected and we're connected to people all over. So if you don't feel comfortable talking with the people in your space, you can find people to talk to in any number of Facebook groups. That's great.
And on LinkedIn too, I always suggest to my clients go on LinkedIn, see the companies or the roles and maybe you know, someone or someone that you know, knows someone that can introduce you just for an informational interview, a warm introduction. If you're going to them, they feel kind of honored, and that, that just gives you that bit of confidence too, to get your questions answered before
[00:20:57] Christina: There's one photography group that I belong to, and a lot of it is [00:21:00] people saying like, oh, I had a client sent me this and I don't really know the most professional way to respond to this. Or, has anybody ever been in this situation before?
In photography, there's a lot of contracts, somebody went through an experience and I'm like, oh, okay. That clause needs to be added in. So if that ever happens to me, I'm covered. And I think it also helps just having knowledge for the future. So like sometimes you read something and six months later you end up in a situation and you're like, wait a minute.
I saw how other people handled this. So it makes you more comfortable and it makes things just run a little smoother.
[00:21:31] Shannon: I'm thinking now about all of the backend stuff that you deal with as a photographer that isn't as glamorous as the holding the camera and being out there and editing. Do you think your experience as an office manager for all those years kind of helped you with the organizational backend part of the business?
[00:21:48] Christina: Yeah, It also definitely made me appreciate the fact that I did a lot of executive assistant work, and I'm like, right now I understand why people need executive assistance because when you're the one running the show, like when [00:22:00] I'm in editing mode and then I have people messaging me trying to book sessions and I'm like, wait, to flip from one mode to the other is not always the easiest.
And I definitely think it gives me a better appreciation for what I used to do.
[00:22:13] Shannon: It just goes to show that you can wanna write a book, but it's not just writing a book. There's so much on the legal side and the reaching out and email. So anything that you wanna pursue, if it's in the creative realm, there's going to be that more boring admin stuff in the back that has to be a part of it
[00:22:28] Christina: Yeah, and I think that even when I take people's pictures, when they ask for a price, sometimes they don't even realize, right? You're paying for 20 minutes. But that 20 minutes is really probably two and a half hours. By the time I set up your booking, I send you a questionnaire, you fill out a contract,
I have to set up an invoice, and then the editing work, and then by the time I deliver a gallery and then send a follow up, like, you were with me for 20 minutes, but I was really working on you for over two
I guess every piece of it really kind of led to what makes me good [00:23:00] at what I
[00:23:00] Shannon: Absolutely.
[00:23:09] Shannon: Name one thing that these different chapters in your life have taught you?
[00:23:12] Christina: Compassion and empathy.
[00:23:14] Shannon: Would you recommend taking a leap into a big life change to your
[00:23:19] Christina: I absolutely would. I think it is the best thing, not only for myself, but for my family that I ever did.
[00:23:25] Shannon: Hmm. What is one piece of advice that you can give to someone who is trying to start their second
[00:23:30] Christina: Don't give up. I know for me there were moments where I felt like either I didn't have enough bookings or I didn't know what kind of session to do next. And I think it's very easy when you're starting something to say like, this is just too hard. But I do think the best things are created out of those hard moments.
And I think when you look back, sometimes they're the favorite part of your journey.
[00:23:52] Shannon: And slow growth, right? It wasn't overnight for you, but you
[00:23:56] Christina: I actually had a younger photographer say to me, [00:24:00] when somebody posts that they're looking for a photographer, do you recommend yourself? And I said, I absolutely recommend myself.
And they were like, but you don't get uncomfortable. Well, if I wouldn't recommend myself, How can I expect somebody else to recommend me? You should know what you bring to the table, right? And there is somebody for everybody no matter what you're doing. I think that's a big thing. Believe in yourself that you can get to where you wanna be, or even further than
[00:24:24] Shannon: Mm-hmm. And see where it takes you. Absolutely. So what does the next act look like for you?
[00:24:31] Christina: The next act, I think probably moving on to bigger projects, to doing more than just mini shoots. Offering more stylized shoots. I'm actually in the progress of creating a maternity wardrobe you know, a lot of times people come for their maternity shoots and they're like, well, I just didn't wanna buy this big frilly dress that I was never gonna wear.
Like, what am I gonna do with this? as you know, my sister-in-law is currently pregnant, she's like, I actually think this is the next [00:25:00] step for you, having a wardrobe where people can rent outfits. And I'm toying with the idea of actually having like a brick and mortar studio.
[00:25:08] Shannon: Oh, that's exciting. That's the next act. All in time. All right, well, where can our audience connect with you?
[00:25:16] Christina: They can connect with me on Facebook at @thelittlestdetailphotography and also on Instagram, or my website.
[00:25:23] Shannon: Wonderful. Is there anything else that you wanna add
[00:25:26] Christina: anything else I wanna add, number one, how amazing you are. Um, I think people don't really realize what an asset you are. I'm blessed that you were one of my first clients, right? You were my first like big interior shoot. Actually, one of my first big lens purchases was for your store.
[00:25:41] Shannon: that's amazing.
[00:25:42] Christina: And I think just people don't realize as a business coach how amazing you've been to me, that, behind the scenes. Having a really good support system. You know, my husband is gonna tell me my work is great no matter what, but it's been amazing to have you to say, all right, I didn't hear back from this person.
Or, what do you think of [00:26:00] these? Or just, all right, try to help me work through this like, I can't thank you enough for your friendship, for your coaching, and just how honored I am to even be asked to be on your podcast.
[00:26:11] Shannon: No, I
thought of you instantly. And, and same for you. I feel like, it's just really nice to have someone else, another fellow mom, entrepreneur to chat with. So we can be each other's accountability partners through this journey.
And, so proud to have you here and thank you so much for taking the time and for all of the goodness that you shared about side hustles and your journey and such great
[00:26:31] Christina: Oh, thank you for having me. This was so much fun.
All right. My thanks goes out to Christina for sharing her story of how she truly grew this side hustle into something that fulfills her creatively and help support her family. To connect with Christina and follow her business online, head over to Instagram she is @thelittlestdetailphotography.
I hope that this episode and hearing Christina's story has [00:27:00] helped you see a path forward to your future and your second act.
Please make sure that you subscribe to the podcast. Take a screenshot, share it with a friend on Instagram and be sure to follow me.
I'm @secondactsuccess. Thank you so much. My friend, I can't wait to chat with you on the next episode of the Second Act Success Career Podcast.