Restart: Jessica DeLeon

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As the world moves toward recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, we asked people in our community about a time they started over or started again.  How did they recover and re-energize themselves in those situations? Over the next several weeks, we will share the stories of their #restart.

 Jessica DeLeon, Photographer

Restart: Jessica DeLeon
Photo: Becky Stavely

My career restart occurred shortly after the birth of my first son almost seven years ago. I was a licensed clinical social worker—a social worker at the highest level licensure in the state—investigating child abuse and neglect, and also working with families dealing with sexual abuse. After my son was born, despite how much I loved what I did, I didn’t want to return to the field. After maternity leave, I worked as a part-time therapist. But I knew in my heart this wasn’t the way I was meant to be a social worker.

Hobby-turned-career

I had been a hobbyist-photographer for a few years, learning to use a DSLR camera mostly for my personal blog. Through local Baltimore rescues and shelters, I also photographed homeless dogs in need of families. With a new baby and supportive partner, I decided to jump into photography as an official business and gave myself five years to really see if it could thrive. My transition was slow as I was essentially creating a brand in myself and defining my style and craft. I asked friends who were photographers for advice. I networked, and worked most nights, developing my camera and editing skills, along with learning the backend business and administrative stuff, which truly was the hardest for me (acquiring the right insurance, setting up an LLC, making sure I was paying the right taxes, etc.).

I gave myself five years to really see if my business could thrive.

Looking back, I was able to persevere through the challenges and learn a completely new skill set and become a business owner because in this new career. I was able to integrate my love for families with my passion for creating something special for the families I worked with. Becoming a professional photographer helped me on my journey through those early years of motherhood, too. It was so enlightening to recognize that as parents we are all on a journey—while no two are the same, there are so many similarities that parenthood really unite us as humans.

To share your story about a time that you chose to #restart, email our editor Jessica Gregg at [email protected]

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