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Starting From Scratch With Alice G. Patterson




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Meet Alice G. Patterson, a captivating soul whose lens paints stories of creative women entrepreneurs. Founder of Loving My Company, LLC, and cover photographer for Syracuse Women Magazine. 


With a BA in commercial photography and nearly three decades of experience, Alice's artistic footprint graces books, magazines, and prestigious blogs. Yet, her story takes a poignant turn.


Embarking on a new chapter a decade ago, Alice dove into brand photography, crafting a fresh narrative for herself and her clients. Her most recent feat was resigning a revolutionary business model.


However, life's twists aren't always expected. In a challenging moment, Alice found herself in a new city, her arm broken, and her dreams were temporarily on hold. Yet, from this adversity emerged an inspiring tale of rebuilding—physically, emotionally, and professionally.


Reflecting on her free-spirited youth contrasted with the pressure to "adult at the hardest level," Alice's story resonates with anyone navigating unexpected challenges.


Join us in celebrating Alice's story—one of reinvention, triumph, and the indomitable spirit to create against all odds. To connect with Alice, visit her website https://www.lovingmycompany.com/

 

Watch Alice's Story




 

Transcript


Jennifer: Welcome to the I Don’t Give a Should Show – a podcast exploring ALL the ways that women SHOULD all over themselves. How many times do you find yourself acting out of obligation or doing what everyone ELSE expects from you without stopping to consider why? Where do all those beliefs that are driving you come from? If you’re tired of feeling resentful, overwhelmed, stuck, exhausted or pissed off you’re in the right place.


Shoulding all over yourself is a real thing, but it doesn’t have to be in the driver’s seat.

I’m your host Jen Sherwood, and I spent waaaaay too many years trying to prove that I was good enough and worrying what other people thought while avoiding conflict at all costs. Today, I don’t give a should – well not as many anyway and neither should you. I’m talking to women like you who figured out how to stop shoulding and start LIVING.


Today, my guess is Alice G. Patterson. Alice is a lifestyle brand photographer for creative women entrepreneurs. She's the founder of Loving My Company, LLC, and a cover photographer for Syracuse Women Magazine. Alice has a BA in commercial photography, and has been published in books, magazines, as well as several prestigious blogs. starting her career almost 30 years ago, Alice has pivoted many times within the photography world. 


After focusing on brand photography for the last 10 years, Alice created an entirely new business model that serves her and her clients. While continuing to serve her photography clients, Alice is getting ready to launch her beta training for brand photographers to help them scale their businesses and get off the feast or famine cycle. I'm so excited about this program - I can't wait for you to launch it. 


Alice, welcome - I'm so excited to have you here today.


Alice:

Oh, thank you, Jennifer. It's so nice to be here.


Jennifer:

Thank you. 


So okay, let's do this - what was it like for you when you were living under the shoulds?


Alice:

I'm gonna back up a little bit, because as a young person and young adults, I was very free spirited. I don't think I really was living under the shoulds, or I might quite possibly have been rebelling against the shoulds. However, fast forward to about 14 years ago, I spent most of my adulthood in California. About 14 years ago, I made a spontaneous move to Syracuse, New York to be in your family and I bought my first home and I only knew my family. I didn't know anybody else here - we didn't grow up here. 


I'm about a month into being here and I came from California and it was November, and I slipped on ice and broke my arm into five pieces and became temporarily disabled. I had to surf like my arm - the break was bad but I had radial nerve damage so my left arm was completely limp. Your nerves are the slowest healing part of the body, and so it was literally almost a year before my arm started working again. 


So here I am, I don't know anybody but my family, I've just bought a house, and I have to spend basically all my savings just to survive because I can't work. You can't hold a camera with a limp arm with one arm. Somebody probably can, but I can't so all of a sudden, I'm this adult in my 40s I'm responsible for a mortgage. I've gone through most of my savings, you know, taking care of hospital bills that just keep coming because it happened in December and then the insurance reset once January. The bills were excessive and so all of a sudden, I just felt more pressure to do the right thing to do the like, you know, to adult at my hardest level.


Jennifer:

I'm hearing the word responsible in my head to do the really responsible thing.


Alice:

Yeah, like I have to, you know, oh, it was a sink or swim moment. I got my photography business going.


Jennifer:

And you weren't even established there. 


Alice:

I had to start from scratch. 


It was a very disabling time for me anyways but so I got my photography business going and for me the should was, if I can do it, I should do it. I came here as a wedding photographer and I was working on doing weddings but if somebody needed a senior portrait, yes, I'll do that. If somebody wants a family picture, yes, I'll do that. 


I was just doing whatever I could to kind of make ends meet, and it became just sort of like, and at the time, like those shoulds. I kind of felt like I was being rewarded, like, oh, I'm getting work. I'm, you know, but in hindsight, I was sort of following the carrot. The carrot was not like my own carrot. It was when anybody else wanted me to do, right? After four or five years, I realized, like, what am I doing here? You know, like, am I happy?


I'm getting busier and busier, which, like I said, at some level, I felt like, oh, this is good. Then I realized that I don't know, I was kind of not satisfied - deep down. 


Jennifer:

I can see that. I mean, as you're describing, that I'm thinking about, if you switch that up, and let's just say you were in a corporate job that was paying you oodles of money, but you couldn't stand what you were doing. I mean, we hear that term soul sucking job for a reason. 


The carrot, the reward is there but then there's no amount of money that's, well, some people can argue this, but there's no amount of money that's going to give you personal satisfaction if it's not there. That's what it sounds like to you were paying your bills, you were establishing yourself but you weren't doing what you wanted to be doing.


Alice:

I had, you know, there wasn't a soul sucking by any means but it just wasn't. It was just kind of spread out. And so I kind of decided that I was done with weddings. 


I had been doing them for 20 odd years, and had just kind of, you know, I always joke like, I started off the age of the bride. Now I'm closer to the grand run down the street and chasing a bride, you know, so I kind of reached my film with that.


Jennifer:

It was off camera, you and I have had conversations, this is a lot of where that feast or famine cycle comes into, right? Like there was a way and ease in I mean, obviously there's weddings and other times, but there's sort of this high season where you're busy, busy, busy and then there's a wall. 


Alice:

That was something I learned here in Syracuse, in New York - there's only a few months where it's not snowing, like, yeah, after a few years here, I realized like, it snows more months than it doesn’t.


Jennifer:

Oh, wow.


Alice:

Yeah, that was kind of a sad awakening, but yeah, so the wedding season here, like in California, was kind of more throughout the year. Whereas here, it was really in, like, four to five months.


Jennifer:

I'm curious - how was this affecting you personally, so you're kind of chasing these carrots, you're doing what you think you should in terms of bookings. 


I'm wondering how it was affecting you personally, because you're now in this. I mean, I realize you said you'd been there for five years at that point. But, you know, you started over and you've sort of hunker down as your healing and you're then sort of following the ship path. 


Did it migrate into your personal life as well? Or was it really just the business?


Alice:

Good question - the answer to that I think that the personal part was just kind of like I was talking about where I'm kind of being you know, stripped down to so many resources. 


I just felt like I should say, yes, I should say yes to anything and so I think my personal life just kind of survived FOMO. Does that make sense?


Jennifer:

Yeah, because when we started this, you said you were a real free spirit sort of rebelling against the shoulds. What you're describing right now doesn't sound like that free spirit. 


I'm sort of making some assumptions here so I'm guessing that it kind of was all encompassing survival.


Alice:

I guess maybe hearing you kind of reflected back, it was a little bit at odds. I was a little bit at odds with myself because I had always identified as a free spirit. This time, like, this was my first time buying a house, like, I've literally moved, I think, approximately 25 times.


We lived in eight different states growing up, my dad was in the army, we lived abroad, moving was like a big part of my identity. I think that kind of was where I got this, like, free spirit things, like, if I didn't like something, I could just go away, go, move, go to the next town, whatever. 


So this was the first time, buying a home just felt like planting roots and being your family for the first time. A long time, I just felt like I needed to, I don't know, not be that free spirit.


Jennifer:

It definitely changed. 


You're grounded, you're rooted - you could have sold your house, but it's not as easy to just pick up and go. Okay, so you're, you're in the wedding cycle, you're following what you think you should be doing? You're doing senior portraits, you're doing just about anything, which, to most of us, makes sense, right? 


I hear where you're going with this, so at some point, I'm imagining something happened where this changed. So was there an event a moment of something? Or was it just a gradual, like, I just can't do this anymore?


Alice:

It was deciding to give up weddings, because I realized, like, they were sort of my biggest financial reward like, you know, you get paid pretty well as a wedding photographer, and for good reason. 


Given that, I didn't want to just do it for the money because there are so many talented photographers and when I started it, I was very passionate about it and I loved it. I just like, I can't just do this for the money, like I'm done with it, it's time to move on. 


Then that left a question like, well, what am I going to do because, again, the senior portraits and the family portraits here are still pretty seasonal. It's really hard to like, kind of store up all your nuts in five months and live off of those and that's where the next seven months.


I started, like, I was working with a business coach and we started looking at my portfolio. And I had kind of gotten into some brand photography with some of the women that I had met locally. And as I was kind of looking at everything I was like, these are the photo experiences that make me the happiest like, I love. Like, I like doing photography, and I'm pretty much happy doing any kind of photography job but like, if I started analyzing it, I was like, these are the ones right now that are making me happy. 


I feel like I understand my clients, you know, as a woman entrepreneur. I enjoy them, I enjoy their creativity, and so I just decided it was time to start kind of stripping away the other stuff. And also thinking that, okay, well, this type of work can be more year round, as opposed to just in these certain months. So that's kind of the tipping point of where I stopped just saying yes, and kind of started trying to carve out my path again.


Jennifer:

What would you say that did for you? 


Now you're saying yes to the kind of photography that you're saying, you actually really enjoy and that and I, and I'm not Alice's client. I wish we didn’t live on opposite ends, otherwise, I would be a client for her and I get it when I look at her. Her photos like she gets her clients and her photos are beautiful. 


So what was it like for you? It must have been scary to say okay, that is Luke. creative, but I'm not enjoying that anymore the weddings and then even like cutting back on the portrait stuff, and really shifting over to what you love. 


I'm sure that was challenging for you, but what happened when you started really focusing more on the thing that you loved? How was that for you? How was it different?


Alice:

It was rewarding, just like in the creative process, and like having fun. It was starting to go past that seasonal aspect. It was also kind of giving my brain space to explore, like to push that boundary, you know, to kind of open up myself to ideas. 


I've always been a person with a gazillion ideas, but rarely do I act on one so at this point, I was now working with a new business coach and lady who you know, and we were in a mastermind, I was within a mastermind with her. 


I presented an idea that I had that was going to kind of there's a new business model for brand photography. I felt like I had given myself kind of enough space in my brain and started carving a path and just felt like I was in a safe place where I could actually tell a group of people about this idea and kind of see what their reaction was and it was a very enthusiastic response.


Jennifer:

It's genius, your business. 


Alice:

Thank you - I appreciate that. 


Yeah, so it's based on a membership business model that I haven't seen anybody else in the brand photography doing. Jen Liddy helped me get a beta started and that sold, we had two shoots, and they sold out within like the first one sold out in 24 hours. Then the second one that I added on, sold out another 24 hours and so I was like, wow, this is amazing.


Jennifer:

Yeah. 


Novel to think about, you know, as entrepreneurs, you really need I don't think most people who aren't in that position, realize, you really need photos of yourself and not just one headshot once a year, you really need to be able to rotate with social media. 


So for you to be able to offer a membership to business was novel, and oh my gosh, so genius.


Alice:

Yeah and it was at a time where, you know, social media marketing, it's just been picking up momentum. That's a lot of content to create and, you know, as a mom and a business owner, it's like, you're just trying to get your dishes done and your laundry done and run your business. 


Now you've got to like, you know, create content, like visual content to go along with your messaging every day of your life. Like, it's a lot so a lot so I think that this business model, it serves me because I'm working throughout the year.


I can bring on new members anytime throughout the year, that serves my clients, because they just have an endless amount of photos that are fresh and seasonal. Again, like here in New York, we have, you know, four seasons so if you're posting a photo that you took in the summer, in the middle of February, it's not going to really resonate.


Jennifer:

What would you say and this is, this was kind of to walk back for a second, this really helps with that feast or famine cycle that you're saying, you know, you can you can do this all year with these women. 


So what did that do for you personally, in terms of your satisfaction, level, your enjoyment level, and, and really now at this point, like, I don't have to take the things I used to think I had to or that I should.


Alice:

Well, it's interesting. 


Again, it's kind of, it's always scary to say no to a job, you know, it's just a, it's a scary thing to do. You think well, who am I to say no to work but the thing is, like, every time I take on a new kind of job, I have to create, recreate a new contract, a new entry form, like it's all this administrative work - that is just stuff that I don't want to be doing. 


By saying no, I'm like freeing myself up to kind of create a system, where I'm not having to reinvent. Every time the phone rings, you know, and I get to work with my favorite people like these clients, we see each other every month. It's like, it goes kind of beyond business and kind of becomes friendship. It feels a little bit more like your free spirit is back where you're saying like, nope, not that. 


This would be a fine job, but it's really not what is serving me anymore and that feels, is that a true statement that it seems like that rebel who's like, nope, not that yes to this.


Jennifer:

I like that. 


I hadn't really thought of it that way. It's very novel what you're doing and so it's very creative. It seems like that fits what you were describing before, just in a different format, in the, you know, in the more mature solid business decision.


Do you want to talk a little bit about the new program that you're working on? Did you want to talk to her?


Alice:

I would love to talk about that. 


I'm in my, well, I think in June, will be the start of the fourth year of this business model. I'm really proud of the fact that I've created this program, and it's become my main source of income and job and I've been invited to other towns like I've got, I went to Connecticut in the fall, and they're bringing me back to kind of do a one off version of the group photo shoot. 


While I love that, and I wish I could do this every day, there's only so many group photo shoots, like, yes, there's only one of yourself. Right? So I've, for a while now been thinking like I need to train other photographers how to recreate this business model, because it took a lot of figuring out it's, like I said, it's a brand new business model I haven't seen anywhere else. And there's been a lot to figure out. 


I want to offer kind of the easy button for other photographers to come and learn how to create this business and give them all the kind of foundation that they need to get it started and because I feel like really kind of every town in America could use a group like this.


Jennifer:

Yeah and so what you're offering them is everything that you've created, so they don't have to start from they would be starting their membership program from the ground up. But they don't have to create all the systems, all the foundation, all the you've done all that for that. And then, yeah, teach them how to implement it - I love that idea. 


I can imagine, first of all, anybody who's watching or listening, go follow Alice, because her photos are just beautiful. It's so lovely to just have those visuals but I would imagine if somebody is a photographer, that might be good, like, when you're thinking about the launch of this new program, that's what you're looking for.


Alice:

I mean, I think being having the wedding photography, and my past really gave me a skill set to kind of create this foundation. 

If there's any burned out wedding photographers that are looking for transition plus the pandemic has been really hard on wedding photographers, you know, there was a lot of disruption to that industry. 


I think a lot of people are kind of looking to get out of it or supplement it so I think anyone that's already into brand photography, or maybe coming out of wedding photography, or will really have the skill sets to make this work.


Jennifer:

If you're a photographer, you definitely want to follow Alice, and you know, maybe there's a category she hasn't even really been thinking about that might really benefit from this program as well. 


Go follow her and see if this might be for you as well, but just follow her because she's fabulous to follow online. Alice, where can people find you?


Alice:

I am pretty regular on Instagram at @lovingmycompany, and then it's my name Alice G. Patterson on LinkedIn. I have a website: https://www.lovingmycompany.com/


Jennifer:

Alice, it has been so fun to hear your story - thanks for coming on today and sharing well you know where you were and where you are. I just think I want to just before we go, I forgot I wanted to really emphasize that piece about when you let go of all the stuff that you felt like you should be doing.  


It opened up the creative space for you to come up with this novel business program. While not everybody listening to this is a photographer or even an entrepreneur, I think that's a really good takeaway of when you stop doing all that when your brain isn't full of all the things you think you should be doing. It opens up the space and who knows what you'll come up with or create or learn or love or, but that was one thing I really wanted to emphasize - I loved when you said that.


Alice:

Thank you for emphasizing that. I think sometimes we get scared and kind of pushing through the fear and it gives you that kind of space for openness.


Jennifer:

Alright, Alice, thank you for being here - those of you who are listening, thanks for joining us.



3 simple steps laid out in 3 bite-sized videos to go from overwhelm to ease (even if you think it's not possible!)




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