Thursday Talks – The Side Gig Photographer

I’m lucky to have a lot of inspiring people in my life. As I research work-life balance, I talk to friends and colleagues about how they manage the day-to-day while following their passion and maintaining wellness.

Natalie is a school counselor at a performing arts school by day and professional photographer by night and weekend. I wanted to learn more about how she balances her two passions – helping students succeed and helping her clients capture memories for a lifetime.

Emotional boundaries

School counselors are working with levels of mental health issues like never before. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health reports 25% of 13-18 year olds have anxiety disorders.

“I do my very best to leave my work at work. Some of the issues I deal with are very sensitive and can really wear me down. I’ve actually asked my husband not to ask me about my day. He knows that I’ll share with him what I need to, whether it’s good news that uplifts me or difficult emotions that I need to get off my chest. I try not to think about some of my work when I’m at home so I can keep a good work life balance.”

Building a community

“FUN is extremely important to have work-life balance! I live close to many of my friends and I can easily walk over to a friend’s house at the end of a difficult day for emotional support. I also get to hear about the amazing things they are doing which uplifts me. When I have things to keep me busy outside of work, I am able to separate my work and life.

I also go out of my way to take two evenings per month for an Inspirational Women’s Group I started. It is a great reset and motivation for me. We “toot” our own horns to acknowledge the good things we are doing either at work or in personal lives. We also share our short and long-term goals with one another, and check in every now and then. The accountability is super helpful for me.”

Advice to freelancers

“Utilize the networks available to you! The process of starting my own side business has been supported by photographers in online communities both local and national. They have taught me so much from how to write contracts, editing techniques, inspirational social media ideas and more. The Rising Tide Society, the Philadelphia Tuesdays Together and Mastin Labs groups specifically have been super helpful and supportive in helping me find my style.”

Check out Natalie’s photography at!

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