Stay-at-Home Mom Turns Hobby into a Business

For Tonya Teran, along with the job of motherhood came the birth of a new career.

Who: Tonya Teran, Tonya Teran Photography

What: Custom photography specializing in newborn, baby, children and family portraits.

Where: Her studio located in her home’s spare bedroom in Rockville, MD. During warmer months, photo sessions often take place outside. She also travels to clients’ homes for shoots, particularly for newborn sessions.

When: Often has about three photo sessions per week or during the weekend. Most of her editing/computer work is done during her daughter’s nap time or at night.

How: After her daughter was born in May 2008, Teran said she wanted to get a camera that was fast enough to capture her new family. She started reading photography forums online and learning how to use her camera, which she purchased in November 2009. That winter, she practiced on her daughter.

“I was bit by the photography bug,” Teran recalled. In May 2010, she reached out to her friends with children to practice on other kids besides her own. She did free sessions during the summer, she said, trying to build her portfolio and at the same time using the experiences to help determine whether it was really something she wanted to pursue as a career. She loved it, and as word spread, she said, her new business took off. She began taking more clients after her daughter started school.

Why: Teran says she is a stay-at-home mom first, photographer second.

“I always wanted to stay home with my daughter as much as possible so when I decided to start a photography business I never looked into working for an agency,” she said. “Plus, that is not the type of product I wanted to offer. I feel that my photography business is very different than the kind you encounter at your local mall photography studio.”

Teran calls herself a custom portrait photographer, which means she tailors her services for families’ needs. She said she only schedules a limited amount of clients per month in order to give them high-quality customer service.

“I love being able to split my time between spending time with my daughter at home and being able to work, doing something that I love, while she is at school,” Teran said.

A Day in the Life: If she has a photo session scheduled, Teran’s day starts by preparing her camera and studio for her clients. Depending on the age of the child/theme of the session, she prepares props and backdrops and paperwork for the parents to fill out. The sessions usually last one to two hours; newborn sessions can last up to four hours. If no sessions are scheduled that day, Teran spends her work time editing, updating client databases, and looking online at professional photography forums for inspiration and new ideas.