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  • Hilary Young

Lady Bosses I Love: Lorraine Daley

Lorraine and I first met at a friend's wedding. She was not attending as a guest, however; she, along with her husband Greg, was the wedding photographer. Since my husband and I were planning a wedding at the time, I was paying close attention to how they approached their work and I also just thought they looked pretty damn cool. We ended up hiring Lorraine (and Greg) to be our wedding photographers and were so pleasantly surprised to become friendly with them both in the process. They are both so warm and friendly, which really comes through in their work.

In 2014 Lorraine had a baby girl, Adriana, and took a break from professional photography. But her talent cannot be denied, and she couldn't stay away from photography for too long. In 2018, Lorraine decided to rebrand her photography business, moving away from weddings and into portrait services. She brings the same warmth and intimacy to her portraits as she did her wedding photos and I can't wait to be in front of her camera again soon!

Lorraine Daley: Lorraine Daley Photography

Lorraine Daley Photo

What is the name of your company and what do you do?

I am a Lorraine Daley and I own a portrait and fashion photography business based in downtown Philadelphia.

How long have you been in business?

I've been in business for 15 years. I did weddings for 8 years, took a couple years off to raise my daughter and recently have made the transition to portraits full-time this past September when my daughter, Adriana, went to pre-school.

We really loved shooting weddings, but we were easily working 60+ hours a week, since my husband also runs a business. When we got pregnant, I knew this was not possible to maintain. We decided to close the studio when I was 7 1/2 months pregnant. I had wanted to be with my child full time for a couple years, so we were fortunate enough to be able to do that.

When Adriana was 2, I shot some weddings for other studios and few for myself, but it very physically/psychologically demanding. I also knew that putting energy into growing a wedding business would take energy and I really was excited about the potential of the portrait business. I wanted to give it my all. And so I rebranded and relaunched the business.

I always knew I would get back to photography, after having Adriana. It is my passion, my art and fulfills my need to create. It is still very challenging to make it work with being a mom, but both are so rewarding, that you just find a way. Thankfully, I have a great partner that supports my dreams.

How did you decide to launch your own business?

After college I worked in finance which not a good fit for my personality. I then worked in IT, which I really liked, but the tech bust happened and I was left at a crossroad. During this time, someone gave me a camera and I knew immediately I wanted to become a pro. Thanks to my husband, he got me my first client and we just ran with it.

What challenges did you face in the process of launching your business?

Initial challenges of launching my business were getting clients on a limited budget. You don't really have much of a marketing budget, so you have to be creative about gaining the trust of potential clients.

Did you feel as though there were resources available to you, specifically as a woman business owner?

There are tons of resources for a women owned business, but I have only recently taken advantage of them. Women's groups have proven invaluable to me personally and professionally, such as Ellevate, The Walnut Club, and NAWBO.

Do you have a mentor?

I do have a mentor. She is also a photographer and she has an online course on how to run a portrait business. She teaches everything from lighting to posing to marketing, sales, design etc. I am eternally grateful for having found her, as I think making the transition from one genre of photography to another has had its challenges and without her guidance, I would've felt completely lost.

Are there any good business books you would recommend?

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, and The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield.

What do you love most about running your own business?

I love making my own schedule. I love being fully responsible for the success or failures of my business. I love the marriage of art and commerce and learning how to make it work. And I love how the challenges force you to grow personally. There is nothing like being your own boss!

What is your least favorite aspect of running your own business?

I find it difficult to wear so many hats. Because I am rebranding, it is a bit like starting from scratch: new portfolio, new marketing materials, new clients. Some days I just don't feel like dealing with all the aspects of making it work, but if I don't do it, no one else will.

I have also found it extremely challenging to be a mom and run my own business. The work day is so short, as I leave to pick up my daughter from school at 2:20. I used to work until 6 or 7 every night before having her, so I really need to stay extremely focused now.

What is your best piece of advice for other women who are thinking about launching a business?

It is critical that you have a good accountant. I had poor advice from one, and it really hurt my bottom line.

Learn from your mistakes--they are not really mistakes, they are lessons. And know that there will be a lot of them. If you drop the ball, own it. Drop the blame game and take full responsibility for everything. It is up to you!

Keep connected with other business owners. Join women's groups. You need peers and mentors you can go to for advice and emotional support. It can be a lonely climb, but it is so worth it to be the captain of your own ship!

Lastly, infuse what you do with love. Be the positive force in your business and know you are there to serve your customers, so check your ego and always do your best.

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