“I knew that I didn’t want to be tied down to one particular location, or to a corporate life that offered no freedom.”
What work were you doing previously?
I was a molecular biologist.
I was working at various start-ups and big companies. My entire biology career was focused on assay development and I worked with different technologies, such as CRISPR. In my career, I even got published in a biotechnology journal, called Nature Biotechnology.
I was also a co-inventor for a patent.
What are you doing now?
Today, I’m the owner of a professional headshot photography studio (415Headshots Inc.).
I’m also the head photographer at this studio.
Why did you change?
I changed because even though I loved science, I couldn't handle the corporate life and politics that came with it.
Corporate life made it harder to stay interested in the science I was working on.
When was the moment you decided to make the change?
As a scientist, when COVID-19 came, we didn't have any days off.
In fact, I had to be in the lab to help create a rapid COVID-19 test. In the meantime, I'd see all my friends working remotely, traveling the world, etc.
At that moment, I knew that I didn’t want to be tied down to one particular location, or to a corporate life that offered no freedom.
How did you choose your new career?
I’ve been taking photography since school.
In high school I had the opportunity to learn shooting on film and developing film in the dark room. Ever since then, I’ve had a camera and photographed anything that piqued my interest. A couple of things that I always photographed were people, cars, nature, and food.
I chose headshot photography as a specific niche because it allowed me to combine my passion for photography with a successful business plan.
Are you happy with the change?
I’m extremely happy with the change!
In fact, I always treat every person that walks into my studio as a science experiment. Each person will get customized lighting, so setting up the lighting and camera settings for each individual is my science experiment.
I also love the flexibility of my schedule, traveling for work, and even expanding into different cities.
What do you miss and what don't you miss?
In the beginning, I did miss having my weekends to be fully off and knowing that work ended at 5:00 P.M.
Having my own business, I'm working either on taking photos, marketing, SEO, managing employees, etc. There are no off days.
This isn’t an issue anymore as my workflows are streamlined, and I can now schedule days off for myself.
I don’t miss having to answer to anyone else, company politics, climbing a corporate ladder, and being stuck to the company’s schedule.
How did you go about making the shift?
It was a transition that required a lot of work!
After my 9-5, I first researched business plans that would allow me to have a successful path outside of the corporate world. Afterwards, I had to create a portfolio of headshots that I could use to advertise my work.
I spent weeks, after work, having friends and family over to take their headshots.
After a while, I knew that there were hundreds of photographers and just having awesome photos doesn’t get you gigs.
So, I learned how to properly implement SEO and design a website so that now I’m number 2 or 3 on Google Search in my area.
After my website started getting a decent amount of conversions per month, I officially made the change to becoming a full-time headshot photography studio owner and photographer.
What didn’t go well? What wrong turns did you take?
In the beginning, I knew how to take photos and get clients, but I didn't know how to streamline workflows, especially as my studio grew.
With so many clients to manage, I lost track of replying to clients or being double-booked. This changed immediately after I researched what platforms I can use to my advantage.
How did you handle your finances to make your shift possible?
I saved almost every penny I could before making the full transition.
What was the most difficult thing about changing?
In the beginning, I was always worried about having a stable income.
This became a non-issue after creating a reputable brand in my area.
What help did you get?
My parents, brother and my wife!
I thank them tremendously for their support to stick with me and believe in me during the transition phase of my business.
What have you learnt in the process?
A lot of things!
How to create a website, SEO, marketing, managing employees, handling clients, streamlining processes, etc.
What would you advise others to do in the same situation?
You can do it!
Nothing is impossible. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy when I told them I quit my stable, corporate job to chase my passion.
People will give you a thousand reasons why you shouldn’t do something, but always believe in yourself and the reasons that tell you that you should chase something!
To find out more about Jasmeet's services, visit www.415headshots.com
What lessons could you take from Jasmeet's story to use in your own career change? Let us know in the comments below.