Beyond the #Girlbossmoment: Photographer Carolin Voelker Lands the Cover of Lonely Planet
"I’m a wedding and travel photographer from Germany. I bought my first camera in 2012 as a birthday present for myself while studying in Hong Kong, and started uploading my first images on Flickr for critique. Through the power of social media and a collaboration between Getty Images and Flickr back then, I got signed as a Getty Images contributor the same year without even realizing that this would be the first step to a thriving photography business. In 2013, I photographed my first wedding and I've done wedding photography ever since, while licensing out my travel photography for Getty Images and other agencies.
Over the past couple of years, my work has appeared in magazines and newspapers like The Guardian, Huffington Post, El País and Harvard Business Review, and have been used for major marketing campaigns. But it was always a dream of mine to see a book featuring one of my images on the cover, and I made it one of my 2016 goals to work on that. So when I found out that Lonely Planet licensed one of my images exclusively for their travel guides, I was super excited. And my celebratory dances around my apartment got a little out of hand when I received the news that it was not only included, but it made the cover! Seeing your work (and your super rookie work, at that--the picture is from 2013) in print is a special feeling, but seeing it on a cover is beyond amazing. Just the thought that all over the world, people see my picture in bookshops, that it (hopefully) inspires them to travel, and that one of the coolest travel companies selected my image out of thousands of possible images of Dublin is pretty amazing. It’s a good reminder that that it’s good to take chances sometimes and an even bigger motivation to work harder, to travel more and to create more work."
Three pieces of advice for aspiring freelance photographers:
1. Don’t quit your day job (just yet). I've heard the advice “Take the leap, the net will appear” so often, but I decided to go another route. I kept my day job and took the time to build my business slowly. It gave me time to set up structure and to build up several income streams while not having to worry about how to pay my rent. It gives me the freedom to be selective with my clients and to stay creative--something that's very valuable to me.
2. Build passive income. As a freelancer and as a wedding photographer in particular, you never know how many clients you’ll book over the next year. To give myself a little peace of mind, I dived into creating passive income for my business. Stock photography is it for me; once an image is accepted, I’ll earn money every time it is licensed, which amounts to a stable chunk of money every month to make up for slower months or off season months when not that many people get married.
3. Find your tribe. Being a freelancer can be lonely sometimes, and it’s so easy to feel isolated when you're staying at home, plugging away at your computer. But inspiration comes from the outside and great ideas get better with feedback. Call it a hivemind, girl gang or a group of business besties, but finding people who inspire you, help you, and work as a sounding board are a great thing to have.