career profile | photographer

I had the pleasure of meeting Nicole through the Bright- Eyed and Blog-Hearted e-course. I was so blown away by her ambition and courage to move from a fulltime position into her passion filled love of photography and taking on her own business.

Nicole Cordeiro | Photographer, Nicole Cordeiro Photography

Brief description of your role:
Part photographer/part business owner. I primarily photograph weddings which I absolutely love but also take on a limited number of portrait and commercial commissions if they are a good fit. When I’m not out taking pictures there’s post production, print orders, album design, marketing, social media, blogging, book keeping, client meetings and communications, networking, professional development and admin to name just a few things keeping me busy. Shoot days are almost like having a day off!

Sowhat do you actually do?
roll out of bed and with my eyes still closed take the dogs to the park (if I miss this they let me know about it and I won’t get any work done for the day!) 7:45am breakfast and getting ready for work (working from home it’s tempting to stay in my pj’s but putting in a little effort here has a great impact on my productivity, its also way less embarrassing when the courier knocks on the door in the middle of the day if I’m actually dressed) 8:30am Check emails and social media (I used to do this fist thing in the morning but have a new no screen time until after breakfast rule) 9:00am Update leads and bookings, receipt any payments received. 9:20am Update my book keeping then get stuck into reviewing my budget and pricing/packages for next financial year. 10:30 Head to my local yoga studio for a class. 12:00 Back in my home office and work on preparing a wedding submission for a bridal blog. 12:30 Lunch time! Trying to break bad habits of a toasted sandwich at my desk – make a healthy lunch and eat it in the garden. 1:00pm Turn on coffee machine and put a load of washing on while its warming up. 1:05pm Work on editing latest wedding, big mug of coffee in hand. 2:45pm Quick break to stretch and make a cup of tea. 2:55pm Back to the editing. 3:55pm Break for another cup of tea and quickly make some pizza dough in preparation for tonights dinner. 4:05pm Back to the editing. 4:30pm Need a break from editing so do some research to find a designer for upcoming website re-design. 5:00pm Remember load of washing that finished hours ago and finally hang it out. 5:05pm Take dogs for a quick walk and drop any client orders in the post. 5:30pm Prep for meeting with potential new clients. 5:45pm Head to local cafe for meeting, talk all things wedding and consume too much caffeine for this time of day. 6:45pm Return home, update my to do list and goals for tomorrow and respond to any new emails. 7:00pm Try and switch off for the night. Easier said than done and there’ll likely be a few quick email checks or an image gallery to prepare for uploading overnight.

How did you get to your position of being a photographer?
Although a lot of successful photographers are self taught I chose to undertake some study in the field. TAFE and uni courses in photography didn’t offer what I wanted but when I came across the Centre for Creative Photography I knew I’d found the perfect place for me. I chose my subjects carefully aiming to either strengthen my skills in a particular area or to be challenged in a different creative direction.

Once I had my basic skills down I connected with an established wedding photographer and was given the opportunity to second shoot with them building my experience and portfolio. This connection led to referrals down the track and was where my first bookings came from so was invaluable.

Prior to deciding I was going to make the career switch to being a photographer I had completed a commerce degree and worked in corporate HR and marketing roles. This gave me a really solid background and skill base that has come in pretty handy for the business side of things where it’s not uncommon to see a lot of photographers struggle.

Have you always wanted to work in the creative industry area?
Yes and no! When I was in primary school I wanted to be a photographer. I chose my high school based on the fact they offered photography as a subject in grades 11 & 12. The year I reached grade 11 was also the year the school stopped offering photography as a subject which was pretty disappointing! The emphasis at school was heavily on going to uni and getting a ‘real’job and I lost sight of what I really wanted to do.

First year out of high school I found myself studying a Commerce degree majoring in accounting. Second year uni saw me adding a double degree in law. Third year saw me changing my mind again, putting the law degree on hold and focusing on finishing the Commerce degree, by now with a major in Marketing and Management. After uni I had a brief stint working in HR in London and when I returned to Australia thought I’d try marketing. I worked in a couple of different marketing roles for medium sized companies but I wasn’t passionate enough about it. Eventually I turned full circle and came back to my early dreams of photography.

What do you love about your role?
My work offers me a creative outlet which I thrive on (and it’s a huge bonus that my photography is no longer just an expensive hobby!) I also genuinely enjoy a lot of the business side of things and the variety that brings. But mostly I’m thankful I get to work each and every day on something I love and that is perfectly aligned with my values. The work never stops but I have the freedom and flexibility to design my business around my life and what’s important to me which is pretty amazing.


In your current role, what has been your biggest achievement?
It doesn’t matter how many weddings I photograph, it will always be a thrill being able to deliver something so meaningful to a couple and for it to be received with such gratitude. My goal is always to make my clients cry (happy tears of course!) so when I achieve that, I’m pretty happy.

On a personal level being able to give back through what I do has always been a huge goal for me. I’ve recently reached the point I can start doing this and am in the early stages of becoming a volunteer with SA Dog Rescue. Being able to donate my time and skills to a worthy cause is really important to me and I hope to get more and more involved.

Over your career, what has been your love thismoment?
I get to work with awesome couples who invite me to share in and document a huge milestone in their lives. Wedding days are such a buzz… everyone is all dressed up, happy, loved up and in the mood to celebrate. What’s not to love?!

What would be the least favourite aspect of your role?
Editing! And the post-wedding hangover (not from drinking on the job, I promise!) Wedding days can sometimes be 12 or more hours of shooting plus travel time and it’s a lot more physically and mentally challenging than I ever anticipated. It’s not uncommon to wake up the next day aching like I’ve had a full body work out and with a banging dehydration headache so plenty of yoga and just generally taking care of my health is mandatory!

Any advice for anyone aspiring to be a photographer?
Practice your craft! It’s often said it takes 10,000 hours to really master your craft so you need to always be shooting. Continue to shoot personal work and step outside your comfort zone regularly. Pushing the boundaries is where all the good stuff happens.

Get to know other photographers and try and gain some experience on professional assignments through assisting or second shooting, what you learn will be invaluable.

And if you want to work for yourself they say running a photography business is 10% photography and 90% business, so make sure you get a good grounding in the business side of things early on.

 You can see Nicole beautiful portfolio here 

Any questions around photography and owning your own business? Please join the conversation below…