A leap of faith
Posted: 26th October 2016
Fancy a midlife career change? Meet Jo Littler, the inspiring woman who dared to leave her career as a midwife to become a photographer… and she did it very well.
From pet shop assistant to one of the first female taxi drivers in Portsmouth, Jo was known for her career changes. Something was missing from her life. A desire and hunger to not just enjoy her job but be the best at it. Despite the fear of failure, Jo made a life-changing decision in her mid-twenties to train as a Midwife.
Late nights writing assignments followed by lots of caffeine to hit those university deadlines, Jo qualified as a midwife and landed her first job at a local hospital.
She immediately made an impression, and her passion for helping vulnerable young women and families soon gave her the role of creating the teenage pregnancy service in West Sussex.
Jo soon found herself as the patient when she became pregnant with her first daughter. Like any first mother, she wanted to savour the experience and make memories that would last a lifetime. Searching online and asking for recommendations, Jo wanted to find the perfect photographer to shoot her maternity pictures. But there appeared to be hardly any choice on the south coast.
Two years went by and her beautiful daughter began walking and growing to be everything she imagined. But there was an empty space. A space that needed to be filled with creativity, passion and inspiration. Selling her family car and buying her first camera, she decided to embark on a journey to fulfil a hobby of photography and try photographing blossoming pregnancy portraits.
Jo was captivated from the first snap of her camera. Weeks later what originally started as a hobby, soon started to turn into a potential; a career potential. People liked Jo's photos and Jo yearned for more.
She began hiring a studio in Portsmouth and learnt the tricks of the trade from a photographer mentor who took her under his wing. Before long, she was earning the reputation as a professional in her field.
Working two jobs proved to be time-consuming but Jo had the photography bug. Returning to Portsmouth, where she had trained, was a real home-coming, with a very supportive group of midwives.
Jo's pregnancy and newborn photography business was booming with clients and she discovered that she needed to branch out and find her own studio that could cater for her growing cliental. On a random shopping trip to Petersfield, she spotted a derelict shop for rent and for a giggle; she called the agent on the board outside to find out the rental costs.
At that point, Jo's imagination spiralled. She did the maths and started thinking about business plans. "This could work" she thought.
Arriving at bank meetings suited and booted wearing her power heels, she wanted them to lend her the money needed to make her dream become a reality.
Jo's ever-growing happy clients were referring her to families, and they would then refer her to more families.
‘Rare Moments Photography’ was going to have its own home for the first time and it was in October 2010 the studio was officially opened by the Mayor of Petersfield.
Needing more staff to help, Jo hired another photographer and together they created a brand new genre to add to her photos, ‘RM Boudoir’. Their mission: to empower women and boost confidence through capturing their true beauty. After all, what woman doesn’t want to feel good inside and out?
With a select team of fellow professionals, they renovated the upper floors, bought the furniture and opened the boudoir studios. What Jo didn’t expect to find was that they would also be changing lives!
For a year, Jo and her team had amazing success but the business still needed more time to grow. Jo's dedication and hard-working character meant she continued to work as a midwife part time and the studio full time. Eighty hour weeks with no leave were the norm, until in November 2012, Jo had to make a life-changing decision. With a family and financial responsibilities, she was on her knees and something had to give.
Jo remembered: "I think I’d already said goodbye to midwifery in my heart. I had loved it but I was increasingly frustrated with being unable to give the care I wanted, morale in the hospital was so low. The business could afford to pay me at last…so I jumped!"
Rare Moments Photography continues to exceed its expectations and every month it grows. In May 2016, they moved into brand new state-of-the-art studios built and designed by the team in a beautiful airy loft space, in the historic town of Havant.
Two daughters, one heart surgery and a thyroidectomy later, Jo can finally settle down knowing she is making a career out of something she loves, which all started with an initial leap of faith.