1 of 2
Mollie Corbett expand her photography business from its early beginnings at Cohab.
2 of 2
For many people, going into business for themselves is just a fantasy, an idea that might be nice to do someday. But for Mollie Corbett, that fantasy has become reality.
When Corbett first moved to Louisiana, she was a new mother in a new place. She didn’t know anyone besides her husband, a military man who had moved the family to Louisiana when he was relocated here.
“[I was] languishing in a house in north Bossier, where the community basically just went home at night, put their garage doors down and no one came out and talked to each other,” Corbett said. “So I was very lonely.”
All of that changed three years ago, when she chanced upon an online article about a creative workspace in Shreveport called Cohab. “They did a piece about this new coworking space,” Corbett said. “You go, rent a desk, come with your laptop, be around other entrepreneurs, and you pay a monthly fee to use the space. It was affordable, and it was a place where I could go and not be lonely.”
The most important part of it, Corbett said, was that she finally got to be around the very people she had been dying to meet, “the creative culture, the readers, the film-goers. Cohab is never about the space, it’s always about the people.”
Cohab opened doors for Mollie Corbett, allowing her to expand her photography business greatly. “Now my business, Mollie Corbett Photography—which started out doing $20 sessions at the duck pond on Kings Highway—is now doing major photography contracts for the oil industry, the North Louisiana Economic Partnership, [and] I’ve done some work for the state,” she said.
One of Corbett’s primary reasons for switching from portrait sessions to commercial contracts was the hours she worked. Commercial shoots allow Corbett to work during regular business hours and still have time to spend with her family.
“I’m no longer doing portraiture for families and children, [and] I’m no longer doing weddings,” she said. “All of those things need to be done after business hours and on weekends. I didn’t go into business for myself to work during the time when my husband and my son are at home.”
Now that Mollie Corbett Photography is becoming a more well-known name, she’s ready to push it even further, to take that next step in the process. She hopes to eventually hire other photographers and become an agency, rather than remaining a solo photographer. “My business has really grown exponentially,” she said. “I’ve made key partnerships and professional relationships through my time at Cohab, but a lot of my professional relationships are beyond Cohab now, because my name has gotten out, and I’m becoming the person they call, instead of me being that girl that calls them.”
It takes good planning and advance thinking to do a good commercial photography shoot, and Corbett shared her trick to making it happen. For each project, she creates what she calls a “dream sheet,” a piece of paper with a photo collage on it, which gives her clients a basic idea of the layout and style she plans to use for the photoshoot; a method that saves both time and money for Corbett and her clients.
“If I’ve got it right,” she said, “they smile and they say, ‘That’s exactly what we want,’ and if I’ve got it wrong, they don’t smile, and I have to go back and do it again. That’s a great starting point for me and the client, because you know right up front—without having actually gone through the shoot—that you didn’t get them what they needed. You can find it out up front instead of getting into a shoot and having to reshoot it.”
Corbett’s advice to others who want to go into business for themselves is simple—do it. “I would like for people who are on the fence about startup to jump the fence,” she said. “There’s never gonna be a perfect time, you’re never gonna have all your ducks in a row. You have to take risks, believe in what you’re doing, because if you don’t believe in it, no one else is going to believe in it. There are resources available and you have to get out from under the rock. You have to get out of your comfort zone and the routine that you’ve grown accustomed to, you’ve gotta shake things up, you’ve gotta read an article and go meet somebody, like I did. You’ve gotta shake up your world.”
By Jasmine A. Thrash