(Editor's Note: Our popular "Side Hustle Series" is back, this time with a twist! Today we're featuring Alli Elmunzer, a photographer who started out in weddings and eventually <gasp> got out! Her conscious decision to transition away from wedding photography, in an effort to build a career that would fit better into the lifestyle she wanted, is one i think is definitely worth discussing. As rooted as I am in the wedding industry, I'm also a firm believer that our passions, our priorities and our purpose can all evolve throughout our lives. I think it's a great thing when someone decides to make intentional changes to their career path, and Alli is a great example of that. She now focuses on commercial and styled product photography through her primary business, Turquoise and Palm, and recently launched her side hustle, a stock photography membership site called COLOR!
Read on to learn more about Alli's entrepreneurial journey, and about how her new venture fits in with her business and her life!)
How did you get your start in the wedding industry?
I can say that it wasn't my initial plan! I actually went to law school and passed the bar exam in two states. During the period when I was working in the legal field and, later, commercial real estate leasing, I found myself feeling creatively stifled and knew I wasn't where I needed to be. I eventually rekindled an interest in photography that I'd had since high school, and began photographing weddings as a side business in 2009. That same year, I wound up losing my primary job - one of those setbacks that's actually a blessing in disguise - and made the leap to launching my full-time photography business, Turquoise & Palm.
What did you really enjoy about weddings when you were photographing them?
My favorite thing about weddings was getting to capture pure, authentic emotion! Photographing the groom's face the first time he sees his bride, an embrace between a bride and her father, a mother dancing with her son on his wedding day...those are all such sweet and special moments, and to be able to tell those stories through my lens was such an honor.
Why did you decide to get out of the wedding business?
It wasn't an easy decision, but once I gave birth to my first child, I knew I needed to take my career in a different direction. I wanted to be able to spend my weekends with my husband and our son, and to have more balance - something that was nearly impossible with my wedding schedule. So, for that reason, I sacrificed photographing weddings for other forms of photography that would fit into my life.
Please share a little bit about your primary business now - what you do, who you serve, and what sets your business apart from others.
Turquoise & Palm now operates as a commercial photography studio, specializing in product and lifestyle photography for small business. In addition to in-studio and on-location shoots for local businesses in the Charleston market, I also shoot styled images for businesses all over the country - they mail me their products and I photograph them here in the studio. I'm very invested in helping small businesses in this way, and my commitment to supporting the success of small business owners is part of what differentiates me.
What do you enjoy most about your current focus?
My favorite part of my new focus is getting to work with other small businesses. Recently I did a shoot with a local company here in Charleston, and after they began using my photos on their e-commerce site, they had their best sales month to date! It feels so good to be a small part of helping to make other small businesses more successful and profitable!
Can you tell us about your side business, and what need it fulfills for your customers?
COLOR is a styled stock photography membership site, designed specifically to serve the needs to creative business owners and entrepreneurs. The site currently offers over 1,000 photos of subjects that are way more relevant than most boring, corporate stock photo sites: wedding and party details, food, flowers, elegant flatlays,creative workspaces, vintage items, home decor, travelscapes and more. The images are all sorted into easy-to-navigate categories and can be downloaded with just a click. They can also be modified any way you like - you can go wild adding overlays, text, whatever you can imagine! What COLOR does for business owners is twofold: it saves them tons of time (because they no longer have to search endlessly for decent photos!) and helps them develop a more beautiful and effective online presence.
How did you come to the decision to launch your side business?
I was very aware of the struggles that business owners dealt with on a regular basis - keeping up with social media, and finding time to get everything done, are hard for all of us. And I knew I had a solution. My years of photography had led me to amass a library of thousands of images, and by creating COLOR, I was able to share those with others to make their lives easier and their marketing more effective.
What have been some of the challenges of managing both your primary business and your side business?
The biggest challenge has been trying to figure out where to spend my time - it's hard enough running one business, let alone two! I think the key, though, is staying organized and focused. I keep a running list of what needs to be done for each business and I tackle those items with the highest priority first. COLOR has definitely been getting more of my attention recently, because I am really trying to get the word out!
What have been some of the benefits you've experienced in running two businesses?
I really love running both of my businesses! Although they're both photography-related, they're different enough that they offer me varied ways to express my creativity. When I'm working with my clients doing lifestyle and small business photography, I take more of a back seat and do what my clients want and need. With COLOR, though, I have total creative control - which is really fun! The other big benefit to running two separate businesses is that there's always something to do and I never get bored!
Anything else you'd like to share?
Just that I'd love to show everyone how COLOR can save them time and hassle, and help them create a more compelling social media presence. Subscription information is available on my site, and visitors can enter their email to receive my newsletter and free images every month!