Sweet Taste of Freedom: Tara O' Photos

Tara O Photos

instagram- @taraophotos
When did your business launch?
I started taking photos when I was really young of my little sister in our bedroom. I'd use a bed sheet or towel as a backdrop and dress her up and give her props. Then I got more into photography in high school. I always loved taking photos of people, I've never been too interested in photographing much else. Then after about a year of college classes for education I decided I would pursue what I actually loved, even though I knew the money wouldn't ever flow freely. In 2007, while attending ASU, I decided to make a myspace page and start promoting myself to attempt to book shoots. I came up with the business name Tara O. Photos as I was creating the page on a quick whim. I never thought that I would do photography as a full time job, but I did just that in 2012 when I quit my "day job" and became Tara O. full time!
What is your business about? What is it that you do/sell?
I am a custom portrait photographer who specializes in retro and pinup style images. I sell not only a finished set of photographs, but an experience that is all about feeling beautiful. I have tons of vintage clothing, props and accessories for girls to use. After getting hair and makeup done (and maybe sipping some wine if you chose to indulge!) my clients get to play a big game of a dress up where I help pose and coach them to help them get some awesome images of themselves. Often girls use a need for a gift for a significant other as an excuse, but also a lot of ladies do it just to treat themselves!

What gave your the inspiration or motivation for your business?
My biggest inspiration is the need to prove to myself that I don't have to be a cog in the corporate machine. After only about 10 years in the work force I was already sick of having to be at an office when I was told to, fight traffic coming and going and dread my work every morning. Working for myself and being the boss babe that I am is so rewarding and exciting (and downright scary!). It's a beautiful thing to have my days not always the same and to be able to do other errands in the day and then work at night if I decide to.

Do you do this full time/part time?
I recently found a meme that said "I don't have a 9 to 5; I have a from when my eyes open to when I fall asleep" and it's soooo true! Working for yourself can be very challenging because if you are like me, you love your job and you don't mind "always" working. There's always a set to edit or an email to answer or a shoot to promote (usually all three and then some) so it makes it hard to ever turn it off and not work. I try to keep set work hours but find that I am always kind of working and sometimes I am "not really" working, which means I am still daydreaming about a set for a shoot or answering emails on my phone.

How has your life changed since starting your business?
The biggest would be my confidence and my overall attitude. I have a lot of social nervousness, but meeting so many people and having so many different conversations with everyone I run into has lessened my anxiety a lot. I am much better at talking to people (though still very awkward sometimes) and much more positive about life in general. 

What is the biggest obstacle you have encountered?
Trying to balance everything when working from home can be very difficult. If I am working on my business, I feel like I should be cleaning my house. If I am working on stuff around the house, I feel like I should be editing in Photoshop. It's a struggle to be in the moment and focus on what I am working on right then and not be thinking of what I need to do next.

What is something you thought was going to be hard, but turned out to be simple, in regards to your business?
I don't know if anything is harder than I thought it would be, but it's all very different. I had these grand day dreams of waking up early, being super motivated and getting done in one day what takes about 3 weeks for me to actually do. I thought just because I didn't have a day job I would have all the time in the world, but that's not the case! 

What has been your biggest success to date?
I feel very proud of all my shoots! When I show a girl how beautiful she is and see her smile from ear to ear it's very exciting and makes me feel like a million bucks! I feel like so much of our country's media is focused on putting women down in order to sell them something. Being able to try to reverse that, even just a little bit, is so awesome and thrilling. I do have to say that being in Retro Lovely three times is a huge honor and also being published in Phoenix magazine with the only two page photo in the issue was very rad.

Do you have any big plans/ideas/launches planned for 2015?
I was just writing the other day some ideas for my themed shoots and places to do shoots at for next year! Nothing is set in stone yet, except that I just know it's going to be amazingly epic! I feel like I was just gearing up for 2014. Time flies when you are having fun!

What would you like to share with COAST readers about your company/business?
If you are in the Phoenix area, traveling to Phoenix or know anyone that is, tell them to check me out! Right now I don't travel much except for Vegas and Southern California, but I really hope that I get to do some sort of tour in the future. That's for sure a goal of mine! 

Lastly, what is the advice you would give to someone looking to start a company or business similar to yours?
The pinup community is very small and it can be very hard to get clients in such a niche market, especially since you can't really "ship" your product to other places like you can with some other types of businesses. But with anything in life, if you want it bad enough, you can make it happen!

Tara O.

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