The idea of becoming a wedding photographer in Colorado sounds too good to be true. You get to be your own boss, set your own hours, photograph at these amazing venues all over this beautiful state all while doing the creative work that you love. Although starting my photography business was the most important career and financial decision I ever made, it's a lot of hard work. I began the process completely unaware of what it takes in order to create a successful and thriving business. Here are 5 things I wish I knew before starting a photography business.
Gear isn't everything.
I was so engrossed in the newest and hottest camera or lens that I put so much focus into it. Don’t get me wrong, I think having a good backup system is really important but once I stopped thinking about gear or if this gear made me look more professional, I was able to focus more on my creativity.
It's okay to not offer it all.
When I first started out, I was obsessed with booking clients that I took any and every kind! I offered headshots, newborns, families, seniors and weddings. My website was filled with these types of sessions and I felt like I was stretched too thin. I showed up at sessions uninspired and left unfulfilled with my work. Over the years, I decided to focus on one area of photography: weddings and couples. Concentrating on one area of photography has given me time to develop my skills. I gained experience and knowledge in that area to really serve my clients best way that I can.
Community over competition.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I struggle with my own insecurities. This was 1000x the case as a new photographer diving into an especially saturated market here in Colorado. Looking through other photographer’s portfolios made me feel small and out of place. Instead of being inspired, I would beat myself up and think that I wasn’t enough. I joined a local photographers group and started attending events. Attending made me feel empowered and gave me a sense of belonging. “Cheering on your fellow small business owners is what community over competition is all about.” - Natalie Franke.
Invest in my Business.
You can find many free lessons nowadays on Youtube and Pinterest but I started to see results when I found a mentor and invested in courses and workshops. Challenging myself and finding the right people who know what they’re talking about was a good way to grow creatively and financially.
I'm not just a photographer.
My job is 25% shooting and 75% admin work. For every 8 hours of wedding day coverage, I have at least 25+ hours of additional work that goes into it. From the moment I get that first inquiry, I’m sending out e-mails, scheduling skype calls, uploading contracts, planning/shooting an engagement session, editing, all before the actual wedding! Post wedding, there are edits, previews, album design.. etc. The work doesn't stop there. There’s also website tweaks, blogging, social media, SEO and taxes!