Shannon Moffit’s first attempt with a professional camera was during her final semester as an undergraduate when she took a film photography class. And little did she know what an impact that class would have on her life! Shortly after graduation, Shannon’s husband supported her newfound love for photography with a digital camera as a wedding gift. As Shannon remembers, “It was a fascinating new adventure for me and I was obsessed!” Fast forward to today, and Shannon runs her very own (and very successful) photography studio.
But Shannon has had her fair share of bumps in the road, as every good entrepreneur does at some point. A few years into shooting families, newborns, weddings, reunions, parties and the like, she took a step back from photography all together. Deciding she needed to find herself a “real job,” Shannon pursued a masters degree in professional counseling. But her passion for photography eventually won out and in January of 2014 Shannon finally realized that she “should have been a photographer the entire time!” But she says, these failures and great lessons were necessary as they helped her appreciate what it means to be a full-time photographer.
A self-prescribed lover of gold, pink, and black and white stripes, Shannon’s home office truly reflects this aesthetic. We loved hearing about the inspiration for her space, as well as her “must-haves” for furniture and decor. This business savvy creative certainly has an eye for chic interiors and we’re thrilled to show it to you today. Enjoy!
Name: Shannon Antoinette Moffit
Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia (Hampton Roads area)
Current title/company: Owner/founder of Shannon Moffit Photography LLC and stay-at-home momma
Education: B.A. in Studio Art and minor in Art History from the University of Maryland, M.A. in Professional Counseling from Liberty University, and Professional Photography Certificate from the New York Institute of Photography
What was your first job out of college and how did you land that position?
This seems random since I am now a photographer, but my first job out of college was a lifeguard and swim instructor. I played water polo for four years in college and have always loved the water.
And you have a master’s degree in counseling! What lead you pursue a graduate degree?
I am fascinated by life stories and love working with people in general, so counseling seemed like a natural fit.
Currently, you own a photography business. What gave you the courage to leave your formal degrees behind and pursue your passion as an entrepreneur?
After I had a baby in 2013, I faced a major career crisis and decided that a 9-5 counseling job was not for me; I needed something more flexible that would allow me to work from home. I definitely do not regret getting my masters because I learned a lot about myself and how to communicate with all types of personalities. It was all part of the journey that lead me back to my true passion, photography.
What initially drew you to photography? What inspires you as a creative?
I started collecting tear sheets from Vogue when I was twelve because I loved the pretty pictures, so I think this was where my love for photography started. By the time I went to college, I had over four binders full of magazine tear-outs (that are now in my new office). Despite my interest in photography, I actually didn’t pick up a camera until my senior year of college when I was required to take a black and white film class to graduate. I had no idea that this class would have such a strong impact on my life! On inspiration: fresh ideas from the fashion and music world have always been very inspiring to me.
Tell us about your photography business. What did you do differently when you returned to the “business of photography” as you put it?
Launching this business has been a long time coming! I started with a film camera in 2010, made the transition to digital later that year, and then learned how to navigate Photoshop and Lightroom shortly after. In 2011, I started photographing actual clients, but I approached my business as a hobby rather than a money making endeavor. In 2013, I made the conscious decision to be much more serious about running a photography business. I became a LLC and put a lot of money into the “behind-the-scenes” aspect of my business this time around.
What are your greatest challenges as an entrepreneur? Greatest rewards?
The greatest challenge for me thus far has been staying patient while my business grows. I like things to happen fast, but this is not a realistic goal since I am completely new to my community. A photography business thrives on referrals, so I have to be patient and “ pay my dues” in the area to get my name out there. The greatest reward will be a thriving small business!
How have you been able to make a name for your business even though it is a relatively new endeavor? What advice can you offer about being a small business owner?
I have been networking like a fiend! I am constantly sending out emails and meeting up with locals in the industry. My advice to other small business owners is: you can’t be successful unless you get out there!
You work from home in a gorgeous office! Tell us about your inspiration for this space. What did you want to achieve?
Yes!! Thank you, I am so obsessed with my office! I am inspired by fashion photography so I knew my office had to have a sleek, slightly edgy, and modern fashion inspired vibe to it. I also wanted to create a dramatic gallery wall to show off some of my favorite black and white portrait and wedding photography.
What was on your checklist as far as design and decor? What were your “must-haves” in terms of furniture and accessories?
I wanted to try to keep the design and decor as modern as possible, but also functional. The acrylic furniture was the only must-have on my list because it screams “modern” to me.
We love that you were able to create such a chic space on a budget! How did you decide when to save and when to splurge?
Well, I knew I needed to have the acrylic chairs to pull off the vibe I wanted. I splurged on those and saved as much as I could on the rest of the details. I bought the two side tables, vase, and mirror for less than $50 and then spray painted them black so they would fit with the black and white theme.
What are you most proud of when you step back and look at your office?
Definitely the gallery wall! It took me forever to figure out the sizes that would work well together and specific pictures that would fit in each spot.
What are the perks of working from home? The challenges? We’re sure they involve balancing your business with being a mom to your adorable son!
Working from home is such a blessing because I can do what I love and spend quality time with my son. The challenge of working from home is that I have to constantly juggle the needs of my two babies: my business and my actual baby!
Family is obviously very important to you! We’d like to thank your husband for his service as a Navy pilot. And thank you for your selflessness as a military spouse! What advice do you have for Everygirls who have a loved one in the service?
Thank you! Being a military wife is one of the hardest things I have ever faced in my life. The best deployment advice I can offer to other spouses is to avoid staying at home and being bored. Get out and do things with friends and family or pick up a hobby.
How do you balance work, family, and life? Tell us about a day in the life of Shannon!
It is definitely hard sometimes! Most days, I wake up early and go to bed late; there are daily blog posts to write, diapers to change, emails to answer, errands to run, play dates to attend, clients and vendors to meet, weddings to photograph, and on top of this I have my own marriage to nourish. It can be overwhelming at times, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
What advice do you have for Everygirls who have a creative dream, but are hesitant to go after it?
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” -Theodore Roosevelt
What advice would you give your 23-year-old self?
Be nice to everyone you meet because you never know what sort of positive impact they will have on your life.
Shannon Moffit is the Everygirl…
I have played the violin since the 4th grade!
Tall, white chocolate mocha, with raspberry and soy, no whip! The best part about this drink? It’s pink!
Anywhere I can take awesome pictures!
Best advice you’ve ever received?
I can’t remember where I heard this, but it has always stuck with me: “The harder you work, the luckier you will get!”
If you could have dinner with any woman, who would it be and what would you order?
If I had to pick a photographer, it would be Annie Leibovitz. She has photographed so many famous faces and has worked her way to the top of a male-saturated profession. I’m sure she would be a very inspiring person to meet. For food, I would probably just order whatever she was having because I would be so star-struck, ha.