The Business School student monetising his social schedule

By Lori Youmshajekian  Wednesday, 16 January 2019  @Business School

Armed with a camera, a little bit of software and an eye for photography, three UNSW students have turned their social calendar into a profitable 'side-hustle'.  

UNSW Business School final year student Leo Qiang began Selective Photography with fellow students Michelle and Manjekah while they were all still in high school.  

"It started when the three of us wanted to make sure that we were able to capture all the moments of Year 12," Qiang said.  

"The actual business started in 2015 when we were in our first year of uni. We saw the opportunity to take photos for our friends for all of their key events such as birthdays and balls." 

Now boasting over two million photo views and 700 per cent year-on-year profit growth, Selective has become a sizeable photography business.   

Despite its success, running Selective is secondary to Qiang's corporate job as an Assurance Accountant at PwC.   

"The three of us all don't treat it as a main source of income, since we have other jobs elsewhere," Qiang said.  

At first glance, photography isn't a typical part of the career trajectory of a Commerce student, but Qiang says that the business has taught him valuable workplace skills.  

"One of the most important skills Selective has taught me is how to manage expectations," Qiang said.  

"When there are multiple jobs in a week, it is important for us to ensure that we make it clear to clients of their expectations of us and what services we provide."  

Managing the competing demands of running a business, working a corporate job and completing a Commerce degree is challenging, especially because of the unpredictable schedule of photography jobs.  

"(The hours) vary wildly, but it can be as little as an hour a week, to almost 30 hours a week when I have multiple events during the week," the Commerce student said.  

"It's always tough to make sure that we are getting enough study done whilst maintaining a good turnaround time for any jobs that are going on."  

Qiang's says his passion for photography goes back generations, and he picked up his first camera around the same time as learning to read and write.  

"My grandfather was a leading film director in Shanghai when the film industry was in a fledgling state in China - he introduced me to film photography when I was about four or five." 

For Qiang, it's not just about taking a photo and benefitting from an extra income – all that is just a bonus.   

"One of the perks I get to have from the job is being able to celebrate so many people's key events." 

"It's been so amazing to capture so many of my friends' birthdays and celebrate with them in the best way I know how - by taking photos and giving them those memories that they'll keep." 

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