CJC Interview: Connie Chan Founder of What She Pictures
Tell us a little about your path so far— where are you from? Where are you currently?
“I’m a Sydney-based photographer, content creator, and photo tips blogger. With over 15 years behind the lens, my mission is to help boutique brands make their stories shine. Born and raised in Canada, I moved to Sydney, Australia almost 10 years ago and I’ve loved the sunny beaches and great coffee ever since.”
Share a few career highlights.
“I’ve wanted to be a photographer since I was a teenager playing around in my high school’s darkroom. I went on to graduate with top honours from Sheridan College of Applied Arts with a diploma in Applied Photography before spending several years assisting and producing for some of the best commercial shooters in Toronto, Canada.
In 2008, I moved to Sydney and after a few years freelancing, I took a job as an in-house photographer for an international online retailer. worked for that company for almost 8 years, and although it gave me opportunities to flourish in my career, I had finally reached the ceiling of my potential growth there. It was time to strike out on my own. So several weeks ago I quit my job and went back to freelancing full time.”
Where do you find inspiration?
“Instagram is my main source of inspiration at the moment. I lose hours scrolling through people’s feeds. I love seeing what the latest trends are in social content and seeing how I can incorporate some of those ideas into my own work.”
How would you describe your personality?
“I’m a confident, straightforward person who loves to laugh, but has a very low tolerance for BS.”
What does being an ‘entrepreneur’ mean to you?
“I don’t really think of myself as an entrepreneur because freelancing has been around long before being an entrepreneur became a trendy status. I think the title of “entrepreneur” gets thrown around too easily nowadays. There are aspects of being a freelancer that are entrepreneurial, but I wouldn’t call myself an entrepreneur because, at the moment, I’m only building a business to create personal income. Being an entrepreneur, to me, is about something bigger. It’s about filling holes in an industry, trailblazing, and scaling large enough to change an industry as a whole. So maybe next year!”
What’s the biggest misconception you face working from home?
“The biggest misconception I face now that I work from home, is the idea that I can get more done for my home life during the day. Yes, I love that my schedule is now flexible, but it doesn’t mean that I can spend more time doing household chores during my designated work hours. My husband has always been wonderfully supportive of this. He’s never expected or asked me to pick up more responsibilities at home just because I happen to be at home more often.”
Who was the last person that inspired you and why?
“I’m a fan of Jenna Kutcher, the wedding photographer who turned her simple business into a full-blown empire helping creatives build profitable businesses. She’s broken the ceiling of what can ben accomplished as a freelance photographer working from home. I’ve been listening to her podcasts on my lunch breaks and they’ve inspired me with so many ideas for where my business can go in the future.”
What’s your favorite ‘me-time’ or ’self-care' activity?
“Yoga is my favourite method of self-care and me-time. The hardest thing to do when working for yourself is to give your brain a rest from thinking of your business. When I practice yoga I allow myself to clear my head of my business and simply focus on being present during my practice.”
What is the biggest lesson you learned in your 20s?
“The biggest lesson I learned in my 20s came about while backpacking solo through Asia for 9 months. I met so many people from all over the world doing so much with what little resources they had. It made me finally realize and appreciate all the opportunities I’ve been given just for being born in a rich country into an upper middle class, happy family. I realized that I had the tools and resources to accomplish so much in life and that the only thing stopping me from doing those things was myself.”
What is your outlook on your future career? Your career industry?
“I’m excited to see where photography in content creation will go in the next few years. It’s not a field anyone could have predicted back when I first graduated. It’s a new industry and I’m happy to be a part of shaping the new standards in social marketing. Photography was very male dominated when I first graduated. It’s gratifying to see so many successful female photographers carving out their own places in this growing field.”
What’s your favorite quote?
“Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women." - Nora Ephron
If you could give one piece of career advice what would it be?
“Dive in. In whatever small way, you must be moving forward. Making mistakes is inevitable, so stop worrying about making them. They are our greatest lessons. The most important thing is to always be tangibly making steps forward in your career and not just talking about those next steps.”
If you weren’t pursuing your current career, what would you want to be doing?
“Probably travelling, although I wouldn’t want to make travelling my career. Travelling for me is about personal growth and so it’s not something I want to turn into work. At least not now.”
If you could give younger self any bit of wisdom what would it be
“Never mind what other people are doing. Comparing yourself to other people is rarely a good idea. Concentrate on what works for you and your goals and you will find your own path.”
How do you define success?
“Having a life full of contentment, love and personal satisfaction.”
What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses as an entrepreneur and/or WFH?
“One of my greatest strengths is my confidence in myself while understanding my limits. I’m not afraid to tackle a challenge or ask for help if I find myself in over my head. My greatest weakness would be sticking to a schedule, especially in the mornings. I’m not a morning person so it’s easy for me to accidentally allow my mornings to escape me.”
What is your favorite Instagram to follow? Favorite brands on social?
“On Instagram, @lichipan and @taramilktea are probably my two favourite accounts to follow. They’re constantly pushing the possibilities of the power of social marketing and content creation. I’m always excited to see what projects and campaigns they’re working on because they are at the forefront of what brands are willing to do with social media marketing.”
What’s something few people know about you?
“I am a big Jane Austen fan. Sometimes, when I want to sit quietly and read, instead of picking up one of the dozens books I own but haven’t read, I’ll just reread sections of my favourite Jane Austen novels. It’s a bit obsessive, but I’m happy to own up to it.”
The Crackerjack Collective is a series of informal interviews for These New Walls, featuring my entrepreneur and/or work from home network that continuously inspires me. These interviews are meant to, in turn, inspire others looking for similar insight on what we do and the motivation to get started. Know someone extraordinary that you want to see featured in the CJC? Send us an email. x Kate, Founder, TNW