Episode 55: How This Mom Doubled Her Salary (with Photography) When She Lost Her 9-5 Job

Episode 55: How This Mom Doubled Her Salary (with Photography) When She Lost Her 9-5 Job


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute


During the pandemic, Jean Lachat unexpectedly lost her well-paying job with benefits and paid vacation.

Jean is sharing how she doubled the salary she lost by going all-in on her portrait photography business.

If you’re working for someone else and hating it, Jean’s story will inspire you like nothing else.

Losing My Job As a Corporate Photographer

Jean Lachat:

“I was a photographer for the University of Chicago.

I had a steady paycheck every two weeks and the job was okay.

Once COVID hit and things started closing down, I was laid off.

Fortunately, this was not the first time that I was laid off.

I was working for the Chicago Newspaper when that industry started to crash in 2008.

It was only a matter of time before cuts were going to come, so I buckled down and got serious about building a part-time business.

As a creative, I knew that I needed to have a backup income because I had two small children and I was recently divorced.

In 2011, I was laid off by the Newspaper company.

I then got hired as a Photographer at the University of Chicago.

I continued my portrait photography business during my free time and started training with Sarah.

Was it difficult?

Yes, I was basically working two jobs, but I wanted to work on my own and do what makes me happiest.”

Transitioning a Hobby To a Full-Time Job

Sarah Petty:

“When you got laid off in 2020, what was going through your mind?

Out of the blue, your college calls you and says,

“Jean, your job is gone.”

All of a sudden you have to transform your fun money into your salary.

How did you mentally deal with that?”

Jean Lachat:

“When I was let go, I was given the exact same speech that I had received from my employer in 201.

I was thinking,

“Oh my God, here we go again.”

The uncertainty was really scary, I’m not going to lie.

I was used to a regular paycheck, benefits, and being paid every two weeks.

It was hard.”

Replacing My Income With My Portrait Photography Business

Jean Lachat:

“I had to sit down and evaluate what I needed to make each month to support my family.

I thought how much do I need for my health insurance?

How much do I need for my mortgage?

How much do I money need to make?

I decided I don’t need to be filthy rich, I just wanted to live a life that I can support my family with.

Having to reach these financial goals pushed me to work extremely hard on growing my photography business.

Now, I’m more motivated by the enjoyment of photography than I am by money, but money is a nice bonus.

As I grew my photography business, I surpassed my financial goals.

I was able to double my past income in less than a year, during a pandemic.

This year, I’m hoping to double my income again because there are more opportunities for sessions and I am confident in my systems and skills. 

Not only have I doubled my salary by running my own business, but I am also able to take more time off.

I was talking with my sister about a trip and she said,

“Can you get the day off?”

I said,

“Let me ask my boss… yes, I can have the day off.”

I love being able to make those decisions myself.

I can go on vacation when I want, make my own hours, and have my weekends free.

There have been so many benefits to running my own business.”

Sarah Petty:

“That’s so amazing.

Most people would just sit in a corner and start crying, but you got to work.

I’ve seen you do many amazing campaigns in your photography business.

I know you’ve done a promotion with an adorable retro camper for high school seniors and you’ve partnered with many local businesses and charities.” 

Jean Lachat:


I have found that the auction donations, charity partnerships, and promotions have fostered the most amazing relationships with my Dream 100 clients.

Seed planting is always the most important thing to do, and I was still able to do that during Covid.

I’ve created so many relationships with possible clients.

I know a lot of people are scared of reaching out to people, but so much good comes out of it.

I have found that when you actually reach out to help someone create lasting memories, it works out great.

The good that you put out into the world will come back to you, it always does.”

Don’t Let Fear Hold You Back

Jean Lachat:

“If you are still working a full-time job, and saying,

“My photography is just a hobby, I can’t make money with it.”

Know that that is not true.

You can make money through photography.

I am proof.

I doubled my salary through photography.

Make a commitment to the life that you want to have.

Where do you want to be in a year, three years, or five years?

Do you want to be happy or do you want to be in the same spot you’re in right now?

Everything is doable if you don’t let fear control you.

Is it easy to run your own business?

No, but it is worth it.” 

Sarah Petty:

I’m so proud of you, you inspire me.

I love watching you grow as a businesswoman, photographer, and leader in our community.

When things don’t go according to plan, it can be hard to recover.

Not only did you recover, you doubled your income.

I hope Jean’s story inspired you to see that even when things feel like they’re falling apart, there can be something better waiting for you on the other side.

You inspire everyone in our community.

You show others that they can make money in their photography business by showing how you doubled your salary.

I am so glad to know you.

follow boutique photographer sarah petty on instagram to learn more about the boutique photography timeline
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