The Part Time Creatives

The Part Time Creatives

(I wrote about this on my personal website but this is an extension)

There’s a big movement going on in the photography industry right now. “Community Over Competition” has taken over and it’s empowering photographers to encourage and motive each other like never before. It’s been an incredible sight to behold, as a bystander, to watch the entire dynamic of our predominantly social industry change into a huge powerhouse of friendship and encouragement. They meet up on Tuesdays and always seem to have something going on. However, even in a community that opens in arms in such a positive way, it’s still possible to feel like an outsider.

Let me rewind a bit. 

I started my little business almost five years ago back in college and I never really knew where it would go or what to do with it. When it came time to graduate college, every one and their mother asked if I was going to be a full-time photographer and the answer was a confident no. I wanted to see what else was out there for me and I fell in love with digital marketing.

Here we are two years later and I still feel the same way about my answer. I work a full 40+ hour week at my day job in digital marketing and every night and weekend when I come home, if I am not editing or shooting, I am soaking in the rare nights I have to myself (and my husband and Max.) So while I prefer working on my career and working on my business simultaneously, I don’t have time to meet up and mingle with that wonderful group and it does feel like I’m always left out.  I know I am not the only business owner out there balancing a career with being an entrepreneur and I take comfort in the fact that someone, somewhere, is feeling a little left out too.

I edit photos on my lunch break, I send out contracts at 7am before work, I go to sessions after work sometimes still in my business clothes. It’s not conventional and it’s certainly not sane, but it’s just the way it is right now and I’ve gotten real comfortable with it. I use to hide all of this to my friends and clients, I didn’t want anyone to know that I was juggling both because I was afraid of what they would think. Was I not making enough money to just pick one? Did I not have any clients anymore? Did I piss them off and have to fall back on a regular job?  It felt like I was living a double life for awhile until I realized something so important. Just because I am not running my business like Pinterest says I should be running my business, doesn’t mean I am not successful. Success is defined by you, not the photographer with a six-figure income and tens of thousands of followers.  What does it look like for me? Coming home at the end of a long week after kicking ass for 40 hours, getting Google Analytics Certified, learning something new, etc, and then reading an email from a client who is so thankful she found you because you gave her confidence that she didn’t feel like she had before your session.

That’s success.

If you’re reading this and you’re balancing a day job with a burning passion for your small business, just remember one thing: just because you aren’t doing what the internet says you should be doing at this stage, doesn’t mean a damn thing. Keep rocking it out, keep pushing to defy that status quo, and remember, there’s always another lonely creative out there fighting the same good fight.






Ashley Lester


My name is Ashley and I am a wife, a dog mom, and a self proclaimed Professional Beach Bum. I am the happiest when the sun is warm, skies are blue, and my toes are sandy. I speak exclusively in puns and bad jokes, so please just laugh along to make me feel better. I could live off of a diet solely made of Taco Bell, sangria, and spinach artichoke dip. My husband is a huge nerd but it's now rubbed off on me too. While he is Team Stark I will always be Team Captain. We are polar opposites on most things in life but it's what keeps us on our toes. I long for the beach while he dreams of cold winters in the mountains. I consider my photography style to be vibrant, spontaneous, and bold. Color is my muse and it's a major part of every photo I take. I'm not a big fan of photography "trends" and I hope that when you look back at your memories 20 years from now, the feeling of that moment hits you just the same.

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