Trailblazer - Boston Voyager
Awhile back I had the privilege of being interviewed by Boston Voyager. Instances like this are such an honor and also a wonderful opportunity to be able to look back and see where I was and what’s changed since. I wanted to share the contents of the article here on the blog to make sure I don’t lose track of it!
Today we’d like to introduce you to Cora Proper.
Cora, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Everyone’s story reads a little differently, and in my case the path to owning a photography business included earning a B.S. in Psychology. My entire childhood growing up in New Hampshire I remember asking for three things every Christmas or birthday: a camera, a book, and some type of adventure gear. I love the academic world and always enrolled in as many classes as possible, which is how my Dad and I ended up at a local community class when I was in middle school taking a course in photography. Having chosen to be homeschooled for high school *long story,* I’m not afraid of the words “self-taught,” because for me it meant seeking out resources and learning everything I could about a subject because I wanted to, not simply because I had to. The skills I learned in my high school years turned out to serve me well during my term abroad studying at the University of Oxford as well as now in the field of photography.
My parents invested in our family and made traveling a priority, a gift I will always be grateful for, though I’m not sure at the time they realized how far and how long my love of travel would take me away from home in NH, and now to living in Connecticut. I traveled to the Philippines right out of high school on a service trip and it was on that trip, I started to identify the incredible role photography plays in documenting the human experience. Photographs not only help to tell a story in the here and now, but the very motivation behind documenting life in this way also reveals something about humanness and our inherent desire to be a part of a story. To be seen and to be remembered. It wasn’t until several years later when I fell in love with and married my best friend that I realized how passionate I was about documenting love stories. And now, here I am, working with the most amazing couples in New England and beyond and helping to make their wedding days a day that will last forever. I’m all about forever love, forever documented.
Has it been a smooth road?
You know that saying that goes something like – nothing in life worth achieving is easy? Well, it couldn’t be truer. I have a hard time saying no, I tend to be a people pleaser at my own expense and used to have a bit of a thin skin. A characteristic that owning a business quickly helps you to identify, evaluate, and deal with. To all of the women out there thinking about what’s next, my advice would be to find your people. I’ve never considered myself a people person, but I am most definitely a relationship person. If given the chance I will always choose a night at home with a book over a party, but time spent investing in genuine relationships is a choice I’ll never regret. Just make sure the people you choose are prepared to cheer you on as well as call you out. We all need both of these things just about daily. And please don’t say yes to everything. Take time to discover what you’re good at and what you’re passionate about and make the commitment that unless those two things come together you won’t spend too much time investing in projects you don’t excel at and don’t enjoy. But make sure you challenge yourself, too. Can you tell wearing so many hats in a business can cause a lot of conflict in your internal dialogue?
We’d love to hear more about Cora Jane Photo Company.
As I think it does for a good number of entrepreneurs, it took me some time to identify what it was that I wanted to “specialize” in. I have a lot of interests so reigning all of that into narrow down and focus (little camera pun there for you), is still really difficult some days. Primarily I photograph weddings and this had included gatherings by the ocean of 150+ guests to a small ceremony in the Flagstaff, Arizona woods with less than 50 guests. If there are love and laughter, I’m there. Oh, and if I’m offered a slice of cake you can bet I’m going to eat it.
I think the thing setting anyone apart is their background and the road that led them to where they are – regardless of what field or industry they are in. It’s what makes us unique and it keeps all of life’s interactions interesting. For me, it’s my love for travel and academics and a background in psychology that in some ways sets me apart as a wedding photographer. While it may seem odd, the technical aspect of photography is ever-changing and I immerse myself in learning the ins and outs daily – something I would argue anyone would have to do regardless of the formal schooling they may have received in a particular subject; however, the tools I’ve learned about empathy and working with people are invaluable on a wedding day. Whether a party of epic size or a more intimate gathering for an elopement, wedding days have many complexities and multiple personalities coming together and you want someone who is going to be there, witnessing some of the most intimate moments of your day, to be on your team. Not just to make things run smoothly for 8 hours but to be invested in your forever. The coming together of families to recognize the start of a new one. It’s a really beautiful event to witness and be a part of and I certainly don’t take it for granted.
What’s the most important piece of advice you could give to a young woman just starting her career?
Be yourself. Just do it. Don’t think twice about it and don’t look back. Be prepared to fail and be prepared to admit when you’re wrong. Learn from it, move on, and don’t get too worked up over the things of the past. Oh, and always be willing to listen to the advice of mentors. I’m not a believer in having to make the mistake yourself to learn a valuable lesson. If others are willing to share about their mistakes for you to listen and not do the same, don’t be too stubborn to think you have to learn it for yourself.