Guest Posts

How to start a photography business

One of the most common questions I get from aspiring photographers  is how I started my journey as a wedding photographer.  Back in 2011 I shot 3 weddings, and then shot 10 weddings in 2012. All without official training or money. When I began, I challenged myself to dream and fail. I planned to give myself a year to make this passion for photography work, and if it didn’t, I’d go back and reclaim my trainer position in the corporate world.

Okay, so that’s the story, however most people who asked, wanted to know the how. What was the anchor holding my dreams and reality? I can attribute my development and growth to three main aspect…although I’m the first to say I probably did everything wrong and this advice is not worth reading, but this is how I started.

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I started my ‘business’ with a Pentax Kx and an 18-55 kit lens and a 55-200mm lens. That’s it. I had nothing else, but I took what I had and made it work…much like anyone else starting out. Now, I didn’t know anything about my camera. Nothing. I just read the  my manual then set out and practiced. And practiced. Then I searched the web for answers when I didn’t know what an f/stop was. This is when Mike Browne stepped into my life.
Practice and honing a craft is the key to growing success. Hands down. There isn’t  a magic potion to just get better. Trust me, I prayed for it. And it didn’t come in a fancy box delivered by  a mail man…it came, rather, in the form of blood, sweat, and tears. Day after day of giving myself practice assignments with my camera, second shooting, and participating in online photography community to help my progress.
If you’re not getting better, go and practice.

online presence and connect

Because of a lovely relationship built between me and my clients throughout the wedding planning process (specially the engagement session), I’m invited into their lives during its most important part: Their wedding. When they see their images published and/or their slideshow, they’re immediately brought back to their special day and they’re quite thankful. Their gratitude has taken the form of personal endorsement. My brides and grooms (and their friends and family members) have become my evangelist and followers. Most of my clients have been referred to me by a past bride, or is someone who has seen one of my works from a friend of a friend of a friend of the bride.

Creating an online presence not only widen my reach out, but also created a gateway to connect with like-minded people. These people became my followers and eventually became my clients and then became my evangelist. Unknowingly some became my personal endorsers.

Be yourself

This is the keystone. Of my business. Of my life. When I first started, I was one of hundreds of thousands who was trying to do the same. However, everyone else had everything better. A shinier camera, car, studio, photo books, computer, lenses, lifestyle…better everything. And I had my dog. Mike Browne, a 14-inch laptop, one 16GB memory card, and a lot of heart. To put it plainly, I couldn’t keep up playing the established game.
So I changed the game.

Instead of reflecting on the things that would claim me as a professional (camera, studio, lenses, etc), I simply showcased who I was. That’s it. Whilst others showcased their everythingness, I merely wrote about life. My life. What I ate for breakfast. The toys  I bought for my dog. Ramen noodles. You know, LIFE ALTERING THINGS.
And yet, strangely, it worked. Being myself on the web–on my website, blog, Facebook, and Twitter–has given people more than enough information to Like me or Dislike me. Both results are fine with me.
I’ve come to believe when a branded business, giving prospective clients an opportunity to connect (liking what you like, laughing at your jokes, sharing ideas) or repel (they hate coffee, think you’re as humorous as their mother in law, think you’re just weird) is worth its weight in gold.

Being YOU is your own brand, your style and this will make you stand out from others. Own the unique“You” because everyone else is taken.

So. That’s it. That’s all I got. When I first started, I couldn’t have dreamed my photography business would turn into what it is today. Yes, there are days when I want to bang my head on the wall {repeatedly}, but the joys of doing what I love supersede the life I was destined to lead in the corner office downtown. For this, I couldn’t be more thankful.

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    Mike
    October 14, 2016 at 9:24 am

    Interesting and very sympathic post :). I would love to do some wedding shootings, too, but I really have a confidence problem. On one side I’m 95% sure, that I can do as well as most other guys out there who shoot weddings. On the other hand those lacking 5% are making me mad. I think it’s a great responsibility to shoot pictures on peoples most important day. What if I mess it up? I don’t want people to say: “That guy ruined the day we thought would be the best of our lives with his terrible fotos! Now we dont’t have proper memories of that day and at last he’s responsible that we got divorced after six months …” That’s a bit overstated but you see my point :). Maybe I will dare one day … and get the chance to do so … I would be interested in how you made contact to the first couple you did a wedding shooting for?

    • Reply
      Clickasnap
      October 14, 2016 at 9:26 am

      Perhaps tag along with another photographer at the wedding? Take the photos and that way there is little or no responsibilty on your shoulders?

      • Reply
        Michaline Bak
        January 5, 2017 at 9:52 pm

        I like your idea Tom!

        • Reply
          Clickasnap
          January 5, 2017 at 9:55 pm

          Always a pleasure 🙂

    • Reply
      Teoma Newman
      October 14, 2016 at 11:21 am

      To get paid work in the first place; you’ll need to show some previous photos; so go knocking on some wedding photographers doors and get work as a 2nd shooter.
      Leave a leaflet in the local church offering “Free” wedding photos? can’t hurt and you’ll probably get a free meal.

      My sister is getting married next week and there’s NO WAY I’m being the photographer! But my camera will be with me at all times to add some shots to a portfolio, think I’ll be watching the hired photographer more than the wedding tbh =)

      IF things go horribly horribly wrong, find some way to compensate with a modelling shoot (for free) in more of a relaxed scenario, plus what bride wouldn’t jump at the chance to put the dress on again!?

  • Reply
    DADANG
    October 26, 2016 at 7:51 am

    thanks for the sharing, it was so inspiring. I will tried to build the confidence to shoot on wedding. BE YOUR SELF is the most punch word in my mind.

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