My Short Story: Starting A Photography Business
When I started photography it was a hobby. Like most photographers I dabbled with it when I was in high school but I never saw it as a legitimate way to make money. No one I knew was a photographer so becoming one wasn't even on my radar.
I always loved business and I always knew having a boss wasn't for me, but I did my share of server jobs and nannying. & don't get me wrong, I am so grateful for the jobs that I was able to have. But I was missing something, every day felt like a drag.
I started online college as a way to get my degree without having to go into debt. Through scholarships and hard work I got my degree without having to take out any loans. I was aiming for a biology degree, but half way through my plans changed, mainly because of photography.
I was working as a nanny and doing online school. I had also recently gotten married so my social life was at an all time low. As you can imagine... the only people I was talking to on a regular basis were the children I was nannying and my husband, which for what it's worth counts but, not a lot haha.
For a while, I honestly believe I lost my social skills. I spent my free time doing homework and when I wasn't doing homework I was binging Netflix or Youtube. I hit a breaking point where I knew I needed to find a hobby because watching kids everyday and having nothing to look forward to wasn't doing it for me.
That's when I thought about how in high school I had loved getting creative with my moms camera. I took the dive. I bought a $250 camera. At the time this was so much money to me and my newly married husband. But I knew I needed the creative outlet.
I started to learn. I spent hours and hours watching Youtube videos and trying to figure out how take pictures. I used my sister and her friends as my models and we would mess around taking pictures. I started posting on Facebook for small photoshoots for $25 just to get myself out there.
I spent hours and hours reading blog posts about how to start a photography business. I didn't know anyone personally who was a photographer so I just started doing things I knew other people had done based on their blogs.
One friend in my past was trying to become a model and we ended up reconnecting, so we talked and decided we would set up a styled shoot.
She wanted to do a styled bridal shoot. I hadn't ever done bridal shoots before and the thought of it was exciting. So we did. & I had a blast. The shoot couldn't have gone better. I used my knew found knowledge to shoot manual and I also spent time beforehand to get photos and poses I knew I wanted to recreate.
Here's that shoot! & the pic that got shared multiple times by other bridal magazines!
After the shoot we decided to submit it to some bridal magazines and one of them decided to post a picture from the shoot on their social media. This was huge for me! After that my friend asked if I would do her wedding and I started to have friends and total strangers reach out to me to shoot their weddings.
This was a total shock to me and I realized that wedding and couples photography was definitely the direction I wanted to go. Not only because I had had some success in it, but I also loved the creativity that I was able to show in telling the couples story!
After this I decided that this was totally something I could see myself doing. But like all other new entrepreneurs will tell you there weren't many people that believed in me in the beginning. It's just something you can feel from people when you tell them about your business. You always get the "oh good for you" response, or in other words, that's cool but when are you going to get a real job!
This was hard on me. As an oldest child I am always trying to prove myself but I didn't feel like I was proving myself to many people. Get yourself a man though that is supportive because I wouldn't have been able to get to where I am without him.
The fact of the matter is that my husband believed in me and that's all I needed. We were in a position that enabled me to keep working on my photography on the side of being a nanny.
Slowly and surely my photography side hustle was getting to the point where it was interfering with my nannying job. This is when I made the jump to being a full-time photographer.
When your side hustle takes over you just know, and that's what happened. I was finding myself turning down photoshoots so I could nanny. I quickly gave up my nannying job and pursued photography full time.
After I took the leap I threw myself into learning as much as I could from other photographers. Starting photography in Utah really helped me learn how to be competitive.
Anyone from Utah knows there are always a million weddings happening. But along with the millions of weddings everyone and their uncles cousins are photographers.
So I learned quickly how to stand out. There are a million reasons to try and be like everyone else, but I can promise you by creating your own brand from the beginning you will see how rewarding that can be.
I shadowed and second shot with other photographers my first year as much as I could but in the end I really only went a couple times and spent most of my time creating my own styled shoots and really learned from those.
I took the time to just be creative. As a creative you also know how powerful creativity truly is and practice makes perfect. Working with as many other models as I could I was able to develop a lot of relationships with models, now friends, and end up on their instagrams and getting reach to their followers.
Over the years I have found that being a wedding photographer comes with a lot of stress, it's good stress but I have learned a lot. I hope you also are following your dreams and getting those goals.
Not everyone gets to work their dream job, but everyone can.
If there's one thing you take from my story it's don't waste your time doing something you hate. You only have one life to live and you've got to use it! Imagine where you could be in two years and go for it.
I have tons of blog posts talking about how to grow your small business. I share all the mistakes I have made and all the successes I have found. I'm open and honest. So stop in every once in a while. Say hi, and get cracking!