Today marks four years since I left my 14 year marketing and video production career
with NBC12 and CW Richmond.

It’s hard to believe I spent 14 years in one place. And that it has been 4 years since I quit. Which both sounds like yesterday, and an entire lifetime ago. Probably because, if you do the math, 4 years ago today was one week before Covid shutdown… so I was immediately stuck at home, unable to work, with no money coming in. That was obviously NOT the plan. But you make plans and the universe laughs, right? So you make do with what you can.

As I’m realizing how much has changed over the last four years, I want to take a moment to find my thoughts, write down my feelings, focus on the immense growth that has happened, have an appreciation for it, and everyone who has helped me get here. And seriously, pat myself on the back for making it happen! This is a whole other topic, but women especially, have been conditioned to not take credit for things, and thank everyone else for their accomplishments (and I always do), but for a moment, for myself, it’s important to recognize everything I went through to get where I am today, and acknowledge that I’m proud of myself and how far I’ve come 🙂

So how did I go from being a VCU Art student, to an award-winning local news marketing producer to a fairly well known full-time Personal and Commercial Branding Photographer in Richmond, Virginia?

Here’s a brief history of how I got here, and how it’s going.

I did some digging to find fun photos for this post as well. It’s a lot to read and see, but if you’re here for it, it’s here for you 😉

March 6, 2006:

My first day at NBC12.

I graduated from VCU Arts (Kinetic Imaging) in December, and all I wanted to do was go work for Pixar. But first, I was going to get a job in local television, to get some experience under my belt. The plan was just a few years, then I’ll be off! Well… that never happened. Fun fact, I turned down a job at Google around this same time because it was a contract job and I would have had to move, no benefits, etc. But, Google! And I think specifically for YouTube, which was fairly new at the time… crazy right?! Maybe in some string of the multiverse.

Anyway, I wish I had a photo, but we didn’t have iPhones back then and didn’t document everything. Just flip phones with bad resolution and memories…

I got hired to be a morning news editor, which meant I went to work at 3am, and edited the clips for the morning news shows. Dare I tell you that these clips came down off of a server onto TAPES, digital (DV) tape, but still tape nonetheless.

I did that for a bit over a year, sleeping during the day like a Vampire, before switching to the evening shift, where I edited the FOX news shows. In between doing that, I was volunteering in lots of different departments around the building. I was very interested in how a news station worked. I went to school for animation and film production, not journalism, and never expected to be in that world for 14 years! From answering the 12 On Your Side phone lines, to working elections, to staying overnight to render 3D graphics, to helping in commercial production, to filling in for the assignment desk (which was a pretty big deal) I wanted to try it all.

January 2008:

I joined the marketing and promotions department.

This is where I stayed for the remainder of my career there. I did too many things to list, but basically, anything created to promote the station, I did it. From commercials, to print ads, to billboards, car wraps, special news graphics, logos, anchor headshots, posters, business cards, if it was creative, I had a hand in it. And aside from the unreal deadlines, and insanity that was breaking news, it was mostly tons of fun.

This was also about the same time that I started my photography business on the side. I’d always done it, but I was starting to get requests from friends to photograph weddings, families, babies, etc. So I did this in my spare time, for all of those years. Until I decided it was finally time to to go all in on it.

May 2015:

I win my first Emmy Award for News Promotion. The first ever for the NBC12 Marketing Department. It feels like a big deal, but awards like this are hit or miss, and though they are very special, they are never a true measure of hard work and dedication (and they aren’t free fyi) I say that to acknowledge everyone else’s hard work and sacrifice who may have never gotten “awarded”. A few more Emmys and other awards followed after this, and there could have been more, but like I said, they weren’t “free”…

March 6, 2020:

My last day at NBC12.

What a journey it had been. And what a tough decision to leave! At this point, for years, I had debated and dreamed of the day I might work full-time for myself, never thinking I could truly make it happen. And here we are! Four years in and thriving. But it did not come easy. It took a lot of planning, a lot of smart decisions, and a lot of putting in the hard work. But with every moment of entrepreneurship struggle, is a moment I take to remind myself that I’m living in a world where I have my life back, I set my own schedule, I can be there for my family, take time for myself, and call all the shots (rip all the spots, rock all the rocks… name that millennial auto complete lyrics moment!)

Although there is no way I could ever go back to the news world (you’ll never understand why unless you’ve lived it) I am so thankful for those years, those people that I was able to work with, learn from and grow with. It’s a big reason I am able to do what I do today. I grew SO much while I was there. I walked in the door with talent, but timid, unsure of where I wanted to go, who I was in all of it, shy and quiet. Walked out the door feeling like I owned the place, knew every person in that building, knowing I made a huge, positive impact on a lot of it and ready to rule the world – But remember, insert global pandemic here…

March 18, 2020:

The stay at home order was put into place. Really? All of my “Get out there and start this business going!” energy and fire was put out. All the way out. I became a stay at home mom who couldn’t go out and work. But, I found ways to make money. I did a lot of freelance graphics, consulting, anything I could pull my talents from to help people create things from behind my computer.

Keep scrolling past the grey text box for more details on what happened over the next year…

tina take my photo stuck at home quarantine motherhood

Out of boredom, and to do something creative, I shot a “Scenes from Quarantine” series I had forgotten about until now, here are some of those photos below. With links!

September of 2020:

Gather co-working spaces was looking for ways to get more members, and came up with the idea to offer free headshots. My former NBC12 co-worker, now owner of Get Social RVA, was working as a Community Manger for them, and threw my name out. I was beyond happy, you have no idea. This was my foot in the door to start networking and finding clients for my branding photography business. And we’re still doing monthly Headshot Days for members! And it has been one of my biggest and best referral partners. I am so thankful to Danasia and Gather for getting me out of my funk, and giving me an outlet to jumpstart my new career.

Where we are today:

There are hundreds, thousands of small steps that you will consistently take when building a business, finding great clients, and growing in your craft and as a business owner. Over the last 4 years, I’ve done as much of that as I can. Continuing education, networking, relationship building, putting myself out there and doing professional, consistent work for my clients is really the key.

And guess what? I’ve literally been able to double the highest salary I was making at NBC12. Now, that salary was never as much as it should have been in the first place. But if I had stayed there, it wouldn’t have been possible to do this. And money isn’t the reason or the answer, but it is an incredibly nice perk and justification, and reward for all of the hard work I’ve put in. I might make it look easy, but believe me, it’s not. It takes so much work and dedication. But the lifestyle I have been able to build from this, spending more time with my family, making my own schedule, getting to stay home when it snows, being able to put my child into private school, take off time when I or he needs it, has been the biggest reward I could ask for.

So, a big thank you and shoutout to everyone along my journey that has been a part of it. The people is what kept me in television for so long, and many of them are the same people that helped me get out of it and be successful today. And the people TODAY, are the ones who keep me motivating, going strong and creating amazing, collaborative work. So all in all, this post is about being grateful.

I’ll leave you with this, as I get asked often how I made, and make this business work.
It can be as simple as this, build the foundations off of these ideas, and the rest will come when it’s time. There are no “secrets”, no one size fits all, but these will help.

Lastly – I mentioned there was more to the 2020 story. I found a blog post draft from March of 2021, that was never posted. It was one year after I left my job, and it was still a bit of tough going getting this business of the ground, it was just getting started. I thought it was worth sharing:

Note – this is copied and pasted, not edited, and more of a thought dump than anything.
So welcome to my stream of consciousness from exactly three years ago 🙂

One year ago today, I quit my successful television marketing career to go my own way. It was something I’d been thinking about and working towards for a long time. It was always my master plan, but I never knew when and if it would actually happen. Overall, I loved my job, I was good at it, the people there and the work we were doing kept me from leaving. But the day comes when you have to accept that you truly can not do everything.

Once you start raising a family, that becomes another job, so having my main career, my family and my “side business” just wasn’t working anymore. It was a hard pill to swallow but one I needed to. Leaving a place that is second home and not to mention, gives you financial stability, is not easy in any way. But when I knew I had to drop something, I couldn’t turn my back on the thing I’d been slowly building on my own that I hoped could propel me into my own success. So after lots of talks, spreadsheets and calculations, my husband and I picked a date for me to leave. That date was March 6, 2020. Exactly 14 years from the day I first stepped foot into that newsroom at 3am to begin my journey.

Little did anyone know, that on March 16th, just 10 days later, our world would be put on pause. Businesses shut down, restrictions were put in place, my husband was going to be working from home, daycare was closing, everything I had on my calendar was erased. Just like that. All of my plans were immediately shut down, put on pause… I was now a stay at home mom who wasn’t allowed to work, visit people or leave the house except for supply runs. Face masks, hand sanitizer and toilet paper was impossible to find and we didn’t know what just happened, but we had no choice, we were stunned. Then we figured it out.

For now, I want to talk about how in the midst of everything, the unanticipated circumstances we ended up facing became serendipitous in a lot of ways. So here are some takeaways from the past year that both helped me grow in business and in life.

The power in embracing it.

First, no matter how meticulously you plan for something, how strategic you may be, there is always the chance that uncontrollable outside forces can come in and change everything.

Once those forces put a huge damper on your plans, first you feel overwhelmed, stressed, discouraged, angry and hopeless. But once you push through those feelings, you learn to embrace it, accept it, how to pivot. If you don’t, you’ll lose your mind. And I know there was a point where most of us did lose our minds. Some people struggled much more than others and I feel for you. Many of us had never felt more alone or helpless. I did for a while, but there was a point when I decided to focus on what I could control.

With a sweet little face looking to me for love and support, that came pretty easy. I threw all of my energy into him. He was two years old, an only child and now stuck at home with just me. We became each other’s everything. It was just us. I cherish every extra second I have with him because I know what it is like to be away from him all day wondering if he is ok and missing him dearly, but the opposite of that is no easy task. He was attached to me 24/7, which again, yes I am lucky to have that. But if you know, you also know how hard that is. Let’s not sugar coat it, parenting is rough. It looks happy and perfect from the outside because you don’t see the tears and screams. Yes, my husband was there too, but they figured out a way for him to work 9 hours a day at home, so he was shut in the guest room – now maybe his permanent office – while we figured out how to stay busy and not drive each other crazy.

When life and the world goes crazy, learn to not go crazy with it. Embrace the things that you can and make the best out of them. Easier said than done, yes, and it does take some time, but once you get there life is good. I accepted that my big plans that I’d waited so long for were now put on the backburner and it was time for me to try out a completely new way of life.

Not making money is scary, but it’ll be ok.

This was the biggest hang-up of this whole thing. I was not able to go out and work from March until almost September. Holy sh*t, that was scary. Since I was 16 I’ve had a job. All of the bills in my house are split in half between my husband and I, we like that equality. When I had to start making him responsible for the bills I usually paid, it did not feel good. I had a much harder time sitting with that than he did. I took pride in being able to contribute monetarily, and it was a big shift…

And this is where I want to tell you my biggest tip if you want to make a big change like this, lose your job, quit jobs, etc. And one I am so glad we did. We’d been saving pretty seriously. I wanted to have close to a year’s salary when I left. Just in case. Little did we know that “just in case” was in full force! I hated dipping into that savings, but boy am I thankful it was there.

Getting back to work.

It was July when daycare opened back up. We waited a bit to send him back because we were still nervous. But they were doing a great job. The week that I quit, we switched him to part-time. Our plan was half of the week I would work and he would go to daycare. Finally, we are into that routine and things are working well.

There were (and still are) many restrictions in place, so I wasn’t able to jump in how I wanted when I finally got to start working again. I hadn’t seen people in so long I wasn’t really “out there” and frustrated that I couldn’t attend networking events like I had planned to meet new people. So again, I had to pivot. I ended up making most of my money with design jobs which was great because I could work from home and everyone was happy.

In the background I was working a lot on fixing things within my website that I’d been meaning to do, get my social media and blog working for me, learn about Google Ads and really nail down the type of business I wanted to be. And in all of that mess of last year, I found a good place. I’m still finding it and working through it but I like where I am. I love who I’ve been able to work work with and meet. The new path I am on and the amazing people who have supported me. I am so grateful to everyone who has been a part of it so far. The light at the end of the tunnel is near and I am very excited about the future.

To sum it all up.

So, if you made it this far, thank you! I appreciate you reading about my experience. I hope you found something interesting and maybe it helped you in some way. I love reading about other people’s journeys, there is always something to learn from it. Sharing our experiences and stories is something I have definitely become more passionate about this year and something that I want to dive deeper into this year. I want to use my photography not just to take pretty photos, but to help people tell their stories and share with others.

Finally making the jump to leave my career and start a new one was quite the different story than I anticipated. It was so hard to leave and I miss everyone dearly. But honestly, I do not regret that choice one bit. I’ll admit I had many “OMG, what have I done..??!!” moments during 2020, but the outcome is looking bright and I think it was meant to be. I cant help but think if I didn’t leave when I did, I may not have been able to, or I would have been forced to because we wouldn’t have had childcare. It really is crazy how things worked out, as stressful as some of it may have been.

My biggest takeaway is learning how to adapt and grow. Accept the things that you cannot control and make the most out of your situation. It’s easy to give up and feel hopeless, but don’t. Things will get brighter and have a way of working themselves out. It may take much longer than anticipated, but stay strong, hug the ones close to you when you can and be grateful for what you do have.

Need to update your branding photography?

If you’ve read this and are thinking, hmmm… I could benefit from a bit of a photo refresh, then you’re in the right place! The first step is to schedule a free phone consult with me, to go over your needs, vision, scheduling, packages and my process.

Here are a few resources that may help:

  • Use THIS LINK to download my FREE guide to DIY Brand Photos.
  • Read more about what a branding session with me is really all about.
  • Go HERE to sign up for my monthly studio Headshot Days.
  • Use THIS LINK to learn more about Commercial Branding and Corporate Headshots.

Thank you for reading! You may also like:




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