Sara Huber isn’t undergoing a career change. She’s not unhappy in her current line of work. There’s no immediate industry pivot planned.
So, why am I profiling her?
Because Sara is the epitome of how to create a more satisfying Next Chapter by simply taking a life snapshot, identifying what’s missing and adding something fulfilling.
Let me back up a bit…
Seven years ago Sara and her young family relocated from Brooklyn to Connecticut to follow her husband Jeremy’s job relocation. Starting over was nothing new. She had previously moved from New York to Vancouver to Los Angeles and then back again to New York.
Sara had been freelancing as a web designer and enjoyed both the client work and the flexibility the freelance world offered after the arrival of the couple’s two daughters, Ziggy and Pepper.
Once in Connecticut, Sara fell in love with the easy lifestyle and great public schools. But without a network of babysitters, she found freelancing barely covered daycare and it was tough to find new clients. That’s when she landed a job with flex hours as a UX (User Experience) Designer for one of Hartford’s major insurance firms. Once both kids were in school full day, she upped to full-time work.
In her spare time, she trained for triathlons and ran half-marathons. (I know, right? In my spare time I lie on the couch and watch Netflix…)
So, she’s one of those women who had it all – the growing career, the family and even the time for fitness hobbies.
But after four years at work, she felt like something was missing. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but kept coming back to the photography degree she had earned from NYU that she felt she hadn’t put to full use. After a year and a half in her first job out of college – as a photo editor at Gourmet Magazine – Sara had gone back to school for her certificate in web design and stuck with the industry.
“I never really figured out what I wanted to do with photography (back then),” she explains. “I have this skill I love and I’m not using it.”
She wanted to pick up a camera again but had no idea for what purpose. It was her sister who told her not to wait to figure out the grand plan.
“She said ‘Don’t worry about where you’re going to take it.’,” Sara recalls. “‘Choose one thing and just start.’“
On Instagram, Sara saw “a whole world” of photographers taking pictures of dogs. A long-time dog owner and lover, she was smitten by the photographs.
“I just put the dots together and said this is it,” she says. “It was like the ultimate challenge: can I do this, how do I do this?”
“I’m just going to start.”
She took an old digital camera on a family vacation in Canada and called a local animal rescue organization – the Ontario OSPCA – and asked if she could take photographs of the animals to help them get adopted.
They immediately accepted her offer.
“The door would open and an adorable dog would come in.”
The whole family pitched in. Jeremy did the lighting, Ziggy helped wrangle the dogs and Pepper wrote an identifying description of the 13 dogs they took pictures of that day.
“It was exactly what I envisioned,” Sara comes alive as she tells me this. “It just felt so successful. I made this happen. We’re actually doing it!”
She says it was so much fun, she didn’t mind not getting paid.
“I love dogs. They’re allowing me to take photographs of their animals, I feel like I should pay them!”
The experience gave her confidence and when she returned to Connecticut, she contacted every dog rescue organization near her home.
The organizations Sara works with say the photos positively impact adoption rates. At one particular rescue, Sara was asked to photograph specific dogs who had been at the shelter a long time. Of the six she photographed, four were adopted after their photos were posted.
“People fall in love with the photo,” she explains. “It’s hard to see a dog in a cage but when you see a photo where the dog’s personality can shine through, it catches your eye.”
She’s taken advantage of every opportunity since then, growing her business beyond dog rescue organizations to pet portraits, family portraits, newborn photo shoots ,and headshots.
(Full disclosure – Sara took my recent headshots. I acknowledge I’m not as charmingly adorable as the dogs. But I also did not pee on the floor…)
When she speaks about her work, particularly helping dogs get adopted through personality photographs, you can sense her excitement.
“I definitely have a side of me that woke up,” Sara explains. “It just feels so right. Every time I learn a new aspect, from lighting to focus, there are so many opportunities I’m learning about. To now come back so many years later and feel like I figured out how to use it, that’s very rewarding. “
Sara has no plans for an immediate career change, noting she’s both proud of and likes her current job. But she’s “curious” how she might use photography down the road and she’s currently renovating her garage to turn it into a studio.
“As you get older, you learn to look for opportunities,” Sara says. “You have a much clearer vision that things aren’t just going to happen. Things happen if you are looking for opportunities and in photography I’m constantly looking for where I can make the most of them.”
Love dogs? See a gallery of Sara’s photos at https://www.sarahuberphoto.com.
Profile: Sara Huber, UX Designer and photographer, Sara Huber Photography
Title of Your Current Chapter: “Revisiting a Passion”
Motto to live by: “Make time for at least one thing every day that makes you happy.”
Daily Ritual: I wake up very early to run or read at 5:30 am. Sometimes I don’t do anything other than make coffee, but to me that’s precious time. I’d feel like I missed something if I didn’t have those early sunrise hours.
How do you get Unstuck? Call someone – that one person you can talk to about anything. For me, that’s my sister.
What’s Next? There’s great growth potential and opportunity at my job… I’m moving into more of a leadership position. In the meantime, I’m going to continue to look for photography opportunities and let my business grow.
What advice do you have for others looking to create their own next chapters? Just start somewhere. If it doesn’t feel right, be willing to switch gears and try new things until it does.
Valerie Gordon is a long-time storyteller, a former award-winning television producer, and the founder of The Storytelling Strategist. She speaks at conferences and works with corporations to help high-achievers harness the power of story to build successful and satisfying next chapters. Read other inspiring Next Chapter stories here, And if you know a woman with an inspiring Next Chapter story to be shared, send details to firstname.lastname@example.org.