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Life & Work with Chandra Wicke

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chandra Wicke.

Hi Chandra, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
My partner and I both worked in the film and television industry, but after we had kids, we realized that both of us couldn’t work those kinds of hours and still be sane parents — so we made the decision that I would stay home for a few years while he worked. But after a couple of years of being a stay-at-home mom, I was really struggling with my mental health. I’ve always been very ambitious and creative and I needed both a creative outlet and regular time away from my kids.

I had always loved photography and used our DSLR to take photos of our kids and my partner suggested that I start a part-time family photography business. I’ll admit that when I started, I wasn’t very committed. I thought I’d just make some extra money here and there to contribute to our budget — but I very quickly fell in love. Suddenly I was learning so much — about my craft, about editing, and about running a business. I was out several nights a week, catching sunsets with families that I was photographing or location scouting with my kids. It was like my world opened back up again. I started noticing the quality of the light everywhere I went and my brain was just bubbling with ideas for images I wanted to create. It felt like being back in film school.

Although I still occasionally photograph families, over the last year I’ve transitioned from family photography into commercial and branding photography for small businesses — especially mom-owned businesses. One of the things I love about Los Angeles is that everyone has a creative dream or a business that they’re working on — including moms. And the community of moms supporting other women-owned businesses is really strong and beautiful and I love being a part of it.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Learning to run a business has been a challenge for me. My brain starts drifting the moment someone starts talking about contracts or SEO and it has been a struggle to manage that side of things as my business grows.

Pricing profitably was a big lesson for me. After my first full year of shooting, I did a profit and loss report. After taxes, insurance, childcare, gear, education and subscriptions, I literally made no money — and that was a big lesson because I had so many sessions and thought I was making money. There’s something to be said for building your experience and portfolio, but after that year, I made sure that my pricing was profitable.

The thing I really struggle with now is that my business is at the place where I can work full-time hours — but I also don’t want to miss out on dinners with my kids and soccer games and weekends with my family. It’s a constant juggle between motherhood and ambition. One of the things I’ve learned from serving mom-owned businesses is that it’s a very universal struggle.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I do storytelling photography for families, brands, and businesses. I specialize in branding and commercial photography for small women-owned businesses and I’d like to think I’m known for capturing joy, movement, and connection.

At this point, I’m most proud of the community I’ve built around my business. 95% of my clients are returning clients and referrals and I feel lucky that I get to know and photograph really kind and wonderful people every week.

And I’m really proud of the galleries that I create with my branding and commercial clients. Usually, they include their kids and I love that we get to capture and showcase all of the complicated and beautiful parts of being a mom and a businesswoman.

What does success mean to you?
Success, for me, is being around people I love and being able to find joy every day. It’s cheesy. but the older I get, the less I care about some of the more external trappings of success and I just want to be able to enjoy my people and my life — even if it means I never drive a Tesla.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Image of photographer by Matt Wafaie. All other images by Chandra Wicke Photography

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