Hello friends! Today, I wanted to share how I started my business and give a few quick tips to help those of you who are wanting to start one yourself.
In high school, I was interested in taking photos of nature and random objects but when I got to college, in Lynchburg, Virginia, my interest shifted to taking photos of people. This shift happened when I met my hubby, Joe Marcus! We were just beginning our friendship and he had (what I thought then) was such a cool camera because it made that awesome clicking sound (a huge step up from my point and shoot)! He let me play around with his Pentax camera and I was hooked on using it. A few weeks later, Joe asked a good friend and myself if we could take some photos of him for a concert flyer. I was so excited to do a “real” shoot! That small photo shoot is the moment I wanted to start photographing people and not things (people are so much more interesting because they can you know MOVE).
Then came my first wedding opportunity! My good friend, Jess, asked me to second shoot a wedding with her that summer. That day, I got my first dose of how nerve-racking shooting the ceremony can be and how long the day actually is while shooting. Despite those things, I LOVED it! It was at this point that I knew I wanted to have my own photography business. So my first piece of advice is...
1. Second Shoot. Look for opportunities to second shoot with an already established photographer. This will give you experience as well as let you pick up tips from the photographer.
That summer I offered free photo shoots to anyone who wanted them! I was so eager to be shooting and it helped build my client base as well as my portfolio. Next up...
2. Shoot. Shoot. Shoot. Do free photo sessions of anyone that will let you- families, babies, couples, friends, and even your own family! I believe that the summer I spent doing free photo sessions is really what built my client base. It also gave me a portfolio to show to potential clients. The more sessions I did, the more those clients spread the word about me, and the more sessions I got. Word-of-mouth is the BEST marketing tool you have.
A few months later came my first official solo wedding. I was SO nervous that I was going to mess something up or miss a crucial moment. At this point, my husband and I were dating and I had him to second shoot with me. He helped immensely to get me through my first wedding.
Through the past two years, I’ve slowly raised my pricing as I booked more clients. I’ve also worked on building my brand and style (you can tell my editing style has evolved over the past two years). So far this year, I have shot three weddings and have seven more coming up! My final piece of advice...
3. Market yourself well. Make sure you know who your target market is and brand yourself for them. Have a website (mine is Paper Heart Photography), blog, and Facebook that are cohesive and reach out to the clients you want. Your photography style should be reflected in your online presence, business cards, and packaging.
I hope these tips will benefit you! I'm located in Charlotte, North Carolina now, but if you have any questions for me I’m always available for coffee or a Skype chat :)