Welcome to our first ever case study.
We’ve all heard of mothers who manage to reinvent themselves after they have children, but have you ever wondered how they did it?
Read on to discover how Adrienne went from boredom and migraines to artistic fulfilment and an enviable sense that she is exactly where she’s meant to be.
Adrienne Bizzarri of Adrienne Bizzarri Photography.
Q. So, tell us about the old Adrienne. What did you do between high school and motherhood?
A. After school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do! I didn’t get the marks to study at Uni, so I went and got a job in retail, at a shop called The Chocolate Box. (Sounds good so far)
I gained really strong customer service skills there and worked my way up to assistant manager. But eventually I just got sick of it. I felt like a change, so I left The Chocolate Shop (nooooooo) and got a job at Midas Shoes (home to Mr Figgins – some of the funkiest shoes ever designed).
Granted, working with chocolate or shoes could be considered the ultimate in dream jobs if your name is either ‘Charlie’ or Carrie Bradshaw, but as Adrienne will show us, not everyone has the same dreams.
So were you happier there?
It was good to get out of the food industry, but I still knew that it was just a stepping stone for me. I really wasn’t happy, as I knew that I didn’t want to be in retail all my life, I wanted something else. And then one day I had a light-bulb moment.
I’d always been a sporty person, I knew my anatomy from studying P.E. at a Year 12 level and I would often find myself giving my mum’s shoulders a rub when she needed it. She always said I should become a physiotherapist but I didn’t like the thought of all that study. And then one day at work it dawned on me that I could try massage therapy as a ‘career’.
Did it really come to you out of the blue like that?
You know when you grow up hearing the same thing over and over again? You stop hearing it, so it took me a while to put the pieces together. I think it just fell into place the way it was meant to. I found a little part-time course I could do after work and I thought I’d see where it leads me. I found I was pretty good at massage and I really enjoyed it.
Once I was qualified I just needed to go and find a job.
Was it really that easy?
To be paid a salary you generally find work in someplace like a day spa. They just want someone to be available to rub bodies when needed, so I was given shifts and a salary and I was paid to be there whether or not I had a client.
From chocolate and shoes to a job that you’re naturally good at and enjoyed and didn’t even need to chase your clients! It sounds ideal. Did you love it?
No! I ended up suffering from terrible migraines. The problem is, at a day spa, if you’re good at your job then you get busy. People ask specifically for you. And because the company doesn’t pay you per customer, you might end up doing 8 or 9 massages a day! So after 18 months I was getting migraines and not enjoying it and my body was saying get out of there!
So then, after I was married, I went out on my own. I let my data base of clients at the spa know where I was going and set myself up as a mobile massage therapist.
Were you able to keep it up once you had your children?
I had a break when my first baby came along. I wanted to be a full time mamma! But after my second was about 3 years old I went back to being a mobile massage therapist. It was good to be working, I was enjoying the thrill of being booked, and I was happy that I was popular, but it was hard work. Then I started working through a local natural health practitioner, and from there I moved to being home based. But eventually I got to the stage where I wasn’t getting anything out of it. I just hated it! I was disappointed that a lot of my clients weren’t doing the home work necessary to help themselves and so it was hard to see results. I was just so sick of it!
I wanted to find something else but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was pretty desperate.
Tell me what that desperation was like?
I was constantly thinking about what to do. I was unhappy, and that unhappiness made me feel angry and desperate. And who wants to live like that? It’s not like I was earning a fortune. So I thought, why put myself through that torture? I may as well go down to nothing and find something else that would be better for me.
And that something was Adrienne Bizzarri Photography. Woo hoo! Where did your idea to become a photographer come from and how did you make the transition?
It all started when we booked a trip to Europe to visit my husband’s family. We agreed that we should get a decent camera to take away with us, so I contacted a friend of mine, who is a photographer, to ask her what sort of camera she recommended. She suggested Nikon and I figured if I didn’t know what I was doing I could just give her a yell and she’d be able to help.
So before we went away, I was doing a bit of online research into the camera and I saw an ad for a photography course. They were offering a Spring special that would expire the week after we got back from Europe. So I figured, what I didn’t learn through using the new camera on our trip, I could learn doing the course later.
So we went away and I started taking photos. And because I’d brought our computer with us, I was able to upload them each day. I was amazed at what I saw. It was really exciting. I’d be saying to our relatives “look at your vines!” “look how great everything looks!”. I loved it.
I started learning as I went along. I liked the shots I was taking, and then I started taking note of other people’s pictures and working out what actually makes a photo good. Looking back, I realise that I did have a naturally good sense of composition.
Were you always artistic?
My sister’s an artist – now a tattoo artist – and she’s just incredible, so when I went through high school and did my graphic arts, I was always comparing myself to her. I could never draw like she could draw. But now I realise this (photography) is obviously my creative side.
When we got back from Europe, I looked at all the photos and really liked them, so I thought I’d give the photography course a go and see what happens. Well, I did it, I liked it and I got high marks. Even though it was an on-line course, they set up a Facebook group to go with it so there was a certain amount of interaction with the other students. We were a group of Melbourne photographers who’d meet up and do city trawls and it meant you didn’t feel alone. You got a really good foundation as a newbie photographer.
Once you’d finished the course, how did you get started working as a professional?
My final module was to present 6 images as a portfolio. Mine were all real estate photos because I had a big interest in real estate – and this is where the law of attraction and synchronicity comes into it – A friend of mine recommended me to a designer she knew who needed photos for her design portfolio. So the designer rang me and we got along and she took me on! I was a photographer who had no work experience and she took me on and together we’ve grown.
How did you know how much to charge?
Well, it was a mutual understanding that it wouldn’t be much! (She laughs). Although I have done a lot of freebies since, this first job was in line with my massage fee, $60 an hour. She was happy with that and, being a hippy, it was important for her that we got along and were on the same page.
‘They’ say the second job’s often the hardest to get (we frequently ‘luck’ into the first). How did you get your next job?
Everything’s just fallen into place for me. That’s how I know I’m where I’m meant to be. It’s all been word of mouth. A friend got me my first wedding. My brother-in-law got me my first commercial work. Then the business owner got me to do his Dad’s 80th, then his Mum’s 80th! It’s all repeat business. At christenings I meet pregnant women who then get me to do their christenings and first birthday parties. Somebody has even used me as a gift!
Did you experience fear about this new direction? What was it about?
Oh I had fear. It’s ‘But you’re 36! How can you start a new career now?’ You almost feel like you should deal with the bad lot you’ve been given because you’re too old to start a new career. So I needed to get over that and just think ‘Fuckit! Why not?’ So that was a bit of mind over matter, and a bit of feel the fear and do it anyway. I figured I’m not happy now, I may as well try something new.
Is there anything about your new role that makes you nervous?
Every job. Nothing stops. I get nervous before every job unless it’s a house. I have no nerves about a house. The house won’t move! I can take my time, I don’t have to talk and I can get the detail shots that I love so much.
I get nervous that I’ll miss crucial moments, or, for portraits, I worry about how I’ll get them to pose in a way that gets the winning shot. How will I pose them that isn’t like the last shoot I did?
I’m not nervous about people because I can talk to people, it’s just wanting to get the best out of every shoot. Especially weddings! Oh, my, god. What if the lighting’s wrong? What if my flash doesn’t go off and I miss the kiss? It’s all that. I guess if you didn’t want to do a good job you wouldn’t be nervous.
What do you think are your best assets?
Aside from actual photographic skills, it’s my ability to talk to people. Probably half of my business is that I can talk to people. They like me and they want me back. I also love animals, so pet photography is my other thing. I could sit for hours on the floor trying to get the perfect shot. I’m happy doing that.
How does it make you feel to have your own business?
(Her face lights up like a Christmas tree): I love it! It’s my money and time to do what I want with. I can have a guilt free coffee when I decide to and no one bosses me around. I really feel bad for people who have to listen to a shitty boss every day. I love having my own business.
What do you wish for in your future?
I want to be a little bit busier, but not so busy that I lose my weekends by doing a wedding every week. I like my weekends! I’d like to do more interior design and more pets.
Other than that, I’m really very happy. I’m where I’m meant to be.
If reading about Adrienne has made you want to explore what’s possible for your future, click HERE to know more about our “Design Your Dream Job” Home Study Course and On-Line Coaching Program.