The Courage to Become a Business Owner + Enjoy it
Hey there! My name is Laura Morsman-Churchill, I created Laura Morsman Photography, my destination editorial photography company -- in 2013 when I first moved to Austin by total accident after years of working as a manager for Anthropologie! I am originally from Kansas City live in Austin, Texas with my music teacher husband John, and our two pups, Mr. Hitchens and Muffy!
Being the 2nd oldest child of 6 in my family, (with the youngest two currently 10 years old) many of my clients ask me how I can keep my calm in the middle of the chaos of working with so many people, and I always refer back to the incredibly beautiful circus living in a big family does to a person. You just go with the flow ;)
One thing I was afraid of doing but did anyway was….
Definitely starting my own business, but up until it happened, I had no idea that it was what I wanted to be doing!! I never had dreams of being an entrepreneur or a business owner. I went to college to become a child psychologist and art therapist, and left my senior year after a traumatic life event two semesters away from graduating. I honestly had no goal to be a photographer, and no clear direction with a career path. When people started asking me if I would photograph their families (after they saw me photograph my own big family), I just never said no, and now I'm here! It was definitely/honestly was a case of "fake it till you make it".
Getting started felt…
Absolutely crazy. I had been so conditioned to working a 40+ hour week, managing a team, setting monetary sales goal, with a bi-monthly paycheck and health insurance. When it came to the point where I grew to have each of my weekends taken up by photo shoots, my husband was absolutely the one responsible for pushing me past my comfort zone and finally stepping down as manager, to a part time employee, and finally taking my leave after almost 5 years with a company I truly loved.
My business wouldn't exist without that terrifying leap and definitely wouldn't have happened if my husband hadn't had been there to push me off the ledge of self-doubt.
Obstacles I faced getting started…
Oh man. Where to start. When I first started my photography business, I don't want to say that I didn't have confidence, I feel like that was one thing I did have because I didn't intend to be a photographer at all! With that, if I ever did get a push back or even just a question from a potential client about my prices, ideas, location options, I shrank on the inside.
Learning how to stand by what I was offering was one of the hardest details for me but once I got it, and knew that what I was offering was valuable, that was such a great area of growth that shifted my entire business. Dividing my actual worth and my business has been an incredibly hard but extremely powerful journey for me.
I am motivated by…
My love for people motivates me to keep photographing them. Knowing the intricacy and quickness of life keeps my mind desiring to document it as much as I can.
The most pivotal moment in my life to date was my closest friend suddenly passing away when I was 18. I had taken a photo of him hours before he was killed, and realizing how important that moment caught in time was to me, I think of how people view their loved ones, and I want to capture every ounce of spirit in my clients lives that I can.
We aren't promised anything in life, but we get into grooves where it feels as if we will have all that is around us forever. I do my best to document this world through the eyes of loving it so much, and then I give that viewpoint back to my clients. I love it so so much.
The living person I admire most is…
Without a doubt, it's Ellen DeGeneres. Despite the adversity she found herself in at the very start of her career, she persevered through the doubt and absolute judgement people put up against her best efforts and showed the world how to love, smile, and laugh, even amidst people's small mindedness or life's pains. Look at that shining, loving light of a person now and how many lives she has changed. She was always Ellen, and she knew that 100% without anyone's acceptance. It just took the world years to realize how much she had to share.
I would most like to have the talent to…
I would love to have the opposite of stage fright when it comes to singing!! My mom was an opera singer, and taught me the craft! I absolutely love LOVE singing... and in a former or future life, that would be what I'd be doing! One of these days you'll find me on a stage or at an outdoor venue singing a tune or two ;)
My most marked characteristic is…
I have been told often that I am very tolerant/patient. That totally makes me laugh though! I definitely go back to the whole large family bit. You can't be impatient when 5 people need dinner, want to play outside, are missing a shoe, trying to ride the dog like a horse, or need their seat belt buckled!
A motto I try to live by is…
As simple as it is, it's "Live and let live". In our life we always seem to wait for others to accept the way/path/route we've chosen before we accept it as OK for ourselves. Especially in a world where our lives are encouraged to be documented in portfolio form through social media and shown to the entire world essentially awaiting their approval. You do you and I'll do me, and let's just love each other through understanding, or if there isn't that, through acceptance and respect.
Some things I am proud to have accomplished are…
Hmm... That's hard to have an answer to! For me, my biggest accomplishments in my mind were emotional rather than career focused. My high school and college years were my toughest and some I almost didn't make it through. Accepting the recovery path after almost losing my life to anorexia and deciding to live past the pain in losing friends at an early age to me were things I never thought I could endure. I am still in awe of being on this side of those seasons and am more thankful than ever to be able to relate and walk with those going through the same experiences.
Some hopes I have for my future are…
I don't really know! It takes a lot for me to stay in the present. I love where I am, and if I could do this forever, I would! I am so happy with where this hustle has gotten me, I love my life. At this point, I get to travel to see my family, experience my youngest siblings growing up, and things keep getting better. I would love to photograph families, wedding and fashion all around the world. And I'm doing that! My hope for the future would be continued opportunities and continual expansion of where my photography finds itself!
One piece of advice I would give women about to embark on this journey is…
I talk about this all the time when people are approaching photography as a business, a blog, anything. You can't go into it with others’ opinions or acceptances being your compass or scale of your value or success. You go into something like this accepting success or failure with the same open arms, and also realizing that this isn't your only skill, your only value, or your only purpose. Someone asked me on a podcast interview if I had a plan B, and if I did, then I wasn't a real photographer. My answer was that if I didn't have a plan B, then I was shortchanging myself on my own abilities, because I am so much more than a photographer and if I needed to, I would totally dive into anything else I love doing!
The second part to this is the most important to me -- It's loving others and embracing their success despite your own. Your business shouldn't adjust your heart towards others, and if anything, it should stretch it. As hard as it is, try to nix competition and embrace encouragement.
If you tend to compare, put yourself down, and lose your steam when you are watching other's success -- don't watch others. If you find yourself feeling like a failure when you see others on Instagram seemingly soaring with their pursuits and business, do yourself a favor and shut that app OFF!
You do you, no one else can take that uniqueness away from you! Soon enough you'll see that your own ideas and the way you approach, brand, document your work will have its own personality since it isn't being squelched or influenced by people walking their own unique paths!
I am honored to know Laura, she is a gem of a person. Right?! Can't you just feel her peace. I think it's so powerful.
Run don't walk to Laura! You'll be glad you did!!!! She's based in Austin, but travels the country! Maybe she'll stop in your neck of the woods next!!