#MontanaBoss Friday: Tori Pintar of Tori Pintar Photography

Happy Friday, boss! A day of lazily closing out the week, chatting with your co-workers (aka your pets) about your weekend plans, and hopefully closing up shop juuuust a little early. Each Friday, we'll be doing a feature on an amazing creative business owner in the Big Sky State, so that we can all learn a little bit more about the struggle and the awesomeness of being a business owner. Click here to read other interviews with amazing women from around the state!

Tori Pintar from Tori Pintar Photography

Tori Pintar from Tori Pintar Photography

Hey girl hey! Introduce yourself and tell us about your biz!

Hi! I'm Tori Pintar of Tori Pintar Photography. I'm a Wedding photographer for couples who break the rules because they want a wedding that reflects who they are and the love they have for one another AND the love they have for those dearest to them. For the moms and dads that are rule breakers and raising future rule breakers I also love to spend a morning with them capturing real, chaotic and beautiful family life.

How did you start your boss lady journey?

Accidentally. You might laugh at that, but really. I didn't realize I'd crossed the threshold of self-employed and entrepreneurship until I'd been all in for six or nine months, maybe even a year.

Specifically, people who cared about me helped to create opportunities for me to pursue my passion as a business. They'd noticed just how much I loved taking photographs of people and how fascinated I was with the creativity in the wedding industry and two key things happened.

A friend who did event planning connected me with a couple who couldn't afford photography in a traditional sense and they hired inexperienced me. I pulled an all-nighter to make a slideshow in iPhoto of my 'portfolio' paired with terrible, sappy music to get the job.

On the day, I worked 15 hours for $300.00 and I loved every minute of it. I thought that was so much money!

Then, my uncle connected me to Kene Sperry of Eye in the Sky Photography. This is when serendipity really stepped in, because for the first time, Kene was looking to expand and add a studio manager and possible associate photographer. I worked for free for him that summer to make sure I was the person he hired.

Getting my first paid job was huge, because the idea of being paid to do something I loved seemed impossible and something that 'other' people do. Teaming up with Kene, I found an incredible mentor, learned so much about business and realized that I wanted to run my own, and being a business owner was just as exciting and fulfilling as the photography.

Have you gone full-time with your business?

I pursued payment for my wedding photography services because it felt like the only option for me. Photography was my passion. I was living, breathing and sleeping it.

Fortunately, I found out that I also really liked being a boss lady. Building a brand and a service and experience driven business was fascinating to me and presented constant challenges that kept me on my toes.

At some point, I transitioned mentally from I need to do this passion project to I'm going to build a successful business and life doing something I love. I was hooked by the self-employment beast, but I still hadn't taken complete ownership.

After about two and a half years since I'd made my first $300, I hired a business coach. I was scared to break away from Eye in the Sky and sad to leave such a great team, but deep down I knew that I had to take the reigns and complete responsibility of my business.

Kene and I both knew it and we mutually decided I'd become full time Tori Pintar Photography about two and a half years ago.

How do you build an income and a life through Tori Pintar Photography?

Each calendar year I photograph 15-20 weddings and about 15 families. I will occasionally take on other projects for past clients and local community members that range from event photography to portraits at the school if they're the right fit for me or I need the additional income.

What do you LOVE about being your own boss?

The responsibility.

As much as I'm sometimes terrified that it's all me, I love that I have moments where I look at the clothes hanging in my closet, some of which are actually kind of nice now, and I think I bought those with the money that I--painstakingly at times--made.

Or I recently, joined a wine club, something five or even one year ago would have been impossible. And while it only costs about $200 a year, it feels like such a big deal that I was able to make that happen with out any sort of traditional employment. My family is fairly conservative in a lot of ways, and I've always been the walking to the beat of her own drum member, so I've found huge empowerment in living a life that feels authentic to me but still being able to successfully (at times) adult.

I get bored easily. I couldn't live in southern California anymore for a lot of reasons, but the perfect 80 degree days in December and May and October are high up there on the list. That consistent weather was just so boring to me!

Being a boss lady, I wake up challenged almost every day. The possibilities of what we can do with our businesses, the directions we can take them, the changes we can make, simultaneously excite and overwhelm me.

As the years in business increase, I'm getting more sunk in to the excitement however, because I've also realized that the endless possibilities and choices we make for our businesses most are not permanent. It's ok to test something out and not have it work out or to have something start as an orange and turn into a watermelon. This shift in mindset makes me ecstatic about all the things I can do with my business!

What was your most expensive mistake?

Hiring someone to manage my SEO and not managing them and their progress. I paid them a small fortune for almost a year and I'm on page 5 for my keywords and I'm one of two wedding photographers who reside in Big Sky physically and my website doesn't come up on page one for Big Sky Wedding Photographers.

I tricked myself with the game of being 'busy' into thinking I didn't have time to mitigate this situation or manage my SEO another so I hoped it would just get better.

Really I was just avoiding the tough confrontation of firing them and sharing my truthful experience with a fellow business owner and admitting I had wasted so much money. I've made similar financial mistakes because of 'being' busy but I've found I'm often just avoiding something that is confusing to me which then turns into fear of the unknown and inaction. Taxes are a good example!

What's the biggest misconception that women have around business ownership?

That you're going to wake up on day one and have this beautiful routine where you run in the morning, make a nice breakfast, have a cup of tea, work for eight productive uninterrupted hours with maybe a long lunch in there and then finish for the day and mentally leave your 'work' behind you.

And when you fail at this, that there is something wrong with you and you should beat yourself up about it. Figuring out your working life, routine and habits is one of the biggest challenges to being self-employed.

No one can tell you exactly how to do this. There is no secret formula. Which is both amazing and frustrating. You literally get to build every piece of what your day to day life looks like (yay!) and you literally have to figure out through trial and error, a lot of tears and days in your pajamas with teeth you haven't brushed at 3pm what every piece of your day to day looks like.

Where would you like to be in the next year? The next five years?

With more boxes on my to do list and project list checked off.

I'm on a mission this year to finish things. My mantra is done is better than perfect! Perfection has been halting me in my tracks so I'm trying to just do. Each day I want to accomplish more little things by letting go of so much of the minutiae.

For example a Facebook post that might have taken 15 minutes, now takes 5. In the grander project scheme of things, I have a list of ideas I've wanted to make happen in my business, some of them going on 4 years now, I'd love to look back and have accomplished or at least tried out 3-5 of those.

When I think about five years, I hope I've attempted and completed some really big projects. I have one I'm in the brainstorming stages of now and it's a personal project but it could create some financial/business opportunities in the future. Right now, I'm doing it just for me and I want to keep the focus that way but I know the personal project connects to my core values and passions which will have long term benefits.

What one piece of advice would you give yourself in your first year as a biz owner?

Year One: Don't be afraid to try out a lot things and see what works for you. You don't have to get it right the first or 15th time. Just pick somewhere to start and start even if it is just baby steps. Those steps add up. I promise.

Year Three: Stop working all the time! Go outside. Make a date to hang out with friends and keep it no matter what. Life is both short and long. Short so make the most of it with the people you love but long in that if you don't do this one project today or this month, you have time do it next month. Friends, life, love, joy, you need those to be your best boss lady self.

Want to get in touch with Tori? Check her out on her website. Send her an email and tell her how you found out about her (*cough* The #MontanaBoss feature *cough*)

(P.S. Want to share your story with other Montana business owners? Click here.)