New Chapter

"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."     
 - Isaac Newton 

On 5 October, I hosted a Grand Opening Party for my new photography studio now located on 218 North Lee Street, in Old Town, Alexandria VA.  (Check out the short video below for a tour)

The RSVP list was over 100 attendees and I was truly honored that the majority of the guests actually showed up!

I have to admit it was a bit overwhelming to see several of my networks, to include friends, family, DoD peers, Shipmates, USNA classmates, clients and online followers converge in one space but it highlights the importance and power of maintaining relationships. 

What was even more magical was catching snippets of conversations where complete strangers recognized each other from my photographs.  "Oh you're the friend that ran for State Senate,  I saw your picture on Laura's Facebook page."

So how did I come to find myself opening my own photography studio in the heart of Old Town, you ask?

Well it wasn't planned or even predicted, it all started with a simple request, "would you mind mentoring me from time to time?" 

This is what I said after walking into a small portrait studio that I discovered on one of my photo walks in Old Town.

Katie, the owner of the studio, without hesitation embraced a pure stranger and fellow photographer and over a period of two years, she introduced me to some key professional associations and relationships.

Laura with her mentor and friend Katie Garlock

My military service taught me the power of mentorship and how much it supports one's career and personal life.  The benefits for mentees are just as rewarding as they are for the mentors.

As the mentee we develop a supportive relationship, get assistance with problem solving, our self-confidence is improved and we continue to develop professionally.

The mentor gains an opportunity to reflect on their own practice, while enhancing their own job satisfaction, as well as increasing their professional relationships.

In Spring of 2019, Katie announced her decision to retire and move back to the Midwest to be closer to her family.  At the time, I was struggling through my first year of military transition.  

It was a sign.  

During that same Spring, I had already written my second letter of resignation since retiring from the service, the summer before and I was questioning whether I was ever going to find a job I enjoyed on "the outside."

Now as I start my next chapter, I'm reflecting on the path I took to get to my Grand Opening Party and I am truly thankful for the relationships I have because we are not on this journey alone.

Grand Opening Party Attendees
Laura Hatcher is a retired Naval Officer, Mother, Harley Rider and Published Professional Photographer located in Northern Virginia.

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