Name: Caitlyn Wirkowski
City: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Main Hustle: I am a full time Registered Nurse. I currently work in Home Health, where I visit patients in their homes. After working in both oncology and emergency medicine, I’ve found the best of both worlds in Home Health Care. Everyday is different, and I get to drive my Jeep around all day visiting patients!
Side Hustle: My side hustle, and true life-long passion, is photography. CaitWirk Photo was started about 2 1/2 years ago, almost out of accident! People liked the photos I was taking of my family and friends (specifically a shoot I did with my little sister), and the inquiries started to roll in!
When they offered to pay me for something I thoroughly enjoyed doing, I thought “Why the hell not!”
How did you get started?: I have been enamored with photography since I was very, very young. After constantly having disposables throughout my early years, I finally asked Santa (my amazing, single mother, haha!) for a video camera when I was ten years old. That camera truly never left my hand. I think back and laugh at what a sight it must’ve been to see little ten-year-old me recording my brother’s basketball games, the yearly New Years Eve party at our family friends’ house, and out on the beach during family vacation. Every year for my birthday I asked for a new digital camera, and almost every year I ended up with a new Casio brand digital cam. Towards my late teens I received a Samsung gallery camera and was amazed at the capabilities of it. I had a rough time throughout nursing school. The stress of studying, not failing out, and just learning to be the best nurse I could had me an anxious mess. When I found the time to get out and shoot, all of that stress melted away. I knew that photography was my true calling, and I decided to invest in my first DSLR. It was the best investment I have ever made. I am absolutely jovial when my camera is in my hand, and I am capturing the love and beauty of others and their stories.
When/where do you work on your Side Hustle?: Any chance I can get! My full-time job allows me some decent freedom in the evenings and most weekends. Any chance I have to shoot, I’m out there, camera in hand!
What are the challenges of your Side Hustle?: The biggest challenge I’ve faced is breaking into an industry that is VERY saturated where I live.
Photography is changing these days, as anyone with an iPhone can be a photographer. I just stay true to who I am and let my uniqueness and my brand set me apart. It’s difficult not to compare yourself to the “pros” when you’re scrolling through social media. I just remind myself that everyone started somewhere, and I’m only going to continue to learn and grow as long as I find joy in my work!
What are the rewards of your Side Hustle?: It’s incredibly rewarding when a client realizes their true beauty through the photos we create together. Nothing brings me more joy than to capture people in their true, raw essence. I’m a big proponent of the “real”, and my biggest goal is to freeze those moments in time.
Who is your greatest supporter?: My mom! We were both cheerleaders growing up, so it’s always funny to say she’s my biggest cheerleader. I ALWAYS show my mom my shoots, mainly because I’m just always so excited and eager. She’s constantly telling me “Caity, I thought this was from a magazine!” Haha! She’s also not shy to tell me what I need to work on and give me advice on the business side.
Who/what is your greatest source of inspiration?: I adore Jenna Kutcher! I’m currently taking her PhotoLab course, and I’m just amazed at how much insight she’s giving! I listen to her Goal Digger Podcast all day while I’m driving from patient to patient. She’s real and raw, and those are the people I gravitate toward! Although our editing styles are different, our approaches toward people are similar, and I think that’s why I’m so drawn to her!
What is your dream for your Side Hustle?: My dream is to take CaitWirk Photo full time. I am always a little vulnerable when sharing my feelings about nursing. I love being a nurse, but at a little over two years in, I’m already getting burnt out. It’s hard to see so much illness and death day after day. When I’m on a shoot or editing, capturing those raw feelings and special little moments, I feel so fulfilled. That solidifies the fact that photography is my calling. It’s funny, when I told my mom I was going to nursing school, she was shocked. She said she always saw me following my creativity, and she knew that side of me would struggle without that outlet for my passion.
Do you have any advice for others working on a Side Hustle?: Just do it! After I bought my DSLR, I posted the photo of it on Instagram with the caption, “Why the hell not?” I went back and forth for months debating on whether to invest deeper in this “hobby.” But why not?! If it sets your soul on fire, get after it! I struggled for a few years on finding myself ,and I’m constantly encouraging others to go for their big thing. Take it and run with it, as long as it’s not like, murder, ha!
Feature Image by: Solasta Photography