Interview with a local entrepreneur

{guest post by Emma M}

Colleen Torlone is a photographer based in Delaware, Ohio and has been running CTphotomemories from her home. She is a book lover and writes in her blog about every session she shoots. She believes that every photo tells a story, which is her main draw to photography. She loves to capture memories of her own family including her husband, and her three daughters. She used to be an elementary school teacher, but moved on to pursue her photography dreams. 

During our interview, she talked about how Covid-19 has affected her family and business, and her clients’ families as well. She explained how during the months of Covid her business was so slow, and really took away her favorite time for photography sessions. Wanting to grow her business, she has made webinars and is using her teaching skills to teach others her passion for photography. She plans on learning how to use Instagram to the full potential to get her name further into the photography scene, and to inspire her followers to do the same.

I asked her for advice on starting a photography business since it is something that I would love to do. She explained that you need to keep your goals in mind, find where your talents lie and then focus on building a portfolio and brand. Here are some of the specific questions I asked her…

What was the hardest part about getting started?

Honestly, I think the most challenging part about starting a business was confidence and comparison.  Comparison is definitely the thief of joy, however there is a level of comparing in order to improve and desire to grow. Another challenge is knowing what equipment you want, but not having enough money saved up to purchase. This required getting REALLY good at using the equipment that I had to the max potential.  As my abilities grew, with each new equipment purchase, my imagery improved as well. 

How do you plan on growing your business in the foreseeable future?

In addition to continuing to hone my skills through webinars, online classes and informational materials, I know that growing the type of business that I own requires an online presence.  My photography business is marketing not only my imagery, but my brand. And my “brand” is actually Me! 🙂 Growing my business means serving my audience and caring for them as individuals, not just clients. In the foreseeable future, I plan on learning more about Reels on the IG platform and how to best encourage & inspire my followers.  My business grows most by word of mouth, from experience at a session, and their desire to share that experience online. 

What is the best advice you can give someone on starting a business?

In my experience, it was best to begin my business as a “side hustle.”  This means that I built my portfolio and networked without immediate pressure to succeed because I wasn’t relying on the income from the business.  I was afforded the opportunity to dabble in a variety of avenues (weddings, newborns, families, seniors, events, headshots) until I found my niche and where I could shine. Once you have a grasp on where your talents lie and how you define “success” (I’ll explain that in a minute) it then requires perfecting your brand, access to quality equipment and becoming a consistent presence online so that you build trust with your clients.

Back to success. Defining success looks different for everyone. For some it means six figure incomes, for others it means being able to quit a “regular” job.  For me “success” means being able to contribute financially to my family, without having to sacrifice time with them.  There are seasons of this business that are definitely more time consuming, but I’m able to arrange my schedule such that I don’t miss the most important things during that two month hectic time. Because I set my priorities ahead of time, I can gauge how “successful” my business is based on my balance of availability to my family along with my availability for photo sessions.

I loved being able to email back and forth with Mrs Torlone and get her advice and hear some of her ideas. She is an amazing photographer with a unique style!


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